Copploe, Sebest run off with Mahoning titles


By Greg Gulas

sports@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

At last week’s Suburban League cross country championship, Canfield’s Giovanni Copploe had a hard time keeping up with Howland’s Vinny Mauri and had to settle for second place.

On Tuesday, it was the rest of the field chasing Copploe as he built a comfortable lead, then coasted across the finish line to claim top honors at the Mahoning County cross country championship at Austintown Township Park.

With seven of the top 21 finishers, Austintown Fitch (53 points) took the boys team title while Poland’s Maggie Sebest (19:57.55) and Gianna Stanish (20:05.11) finished one-two to lead the Bulldogs to the girls crown.

Ironically, it was both the Falcons boys and Bulldogs girls who finished runners-up a season ago.

“The game plan today was to go slower for the first mile, hold back the first mile and a half and then go strong the last part of the race,” said Copploe, who posted a 16:33.24 clocking. “I wanted to keep it to five minutes and went on to run 4:57, so I accomplished that. It was pretty hot out today, but that’s to my benefit as I seem to run better in the warm weather.”

Fitch’s Ryan Dippolito (17:06.93) was the Falcons’ top finisher, earning runner-up honors with Ian Pierson (19:09.96) of South Range just three seconds off Dippolito’s pace.

“Last year I was coming off an injury as a sophomore and while I ran decent, I just didn’t want to get hurt,” Dippolito added. “The goal today was to win, but Giovanni is an excellent runner. I had a nice run, won’t get down on myself and will just go back to work tomorrow.”

Fitch coach Paul Farr, currently in his sixth season at the helm, now has three county titles to go along with last year’s runner-up finish.

He said that outstanding performances by the back end of his line-up helped seal the top spot.

“Ryan is our No. 1 runner and someone who has a passion for the sport. He’s competitive, wants to excel each time out and really wants to compete at the next level,” Farr said. “Christian Davis finished fifth and both he and Ryan were wrestlers, so they have that bulldog mentality. Both love to compete.”

Other top Falcon finishers included lance Rosko (13th), Dan Rodino (16th), Corbin Roby (17th), Zach Pezzuolo (18th) and Preston Bosley (21st).

“We had five runners place in the top 17 spots with seven finishing in the top 21, so as a team we ran really, really well,” Farr noted. “Our No. 1 and No. 2 carry us, but the back end of our line-up got it done for us today.”

A member of the Bulldogs’ soccer team, Sebest helped Poland to a 2-0 home victory Monday over the Hubbard Eagles.

“Honestly, my legs were super sore from my soccer game Monday night so all I started out trying to do was work out the soreness,” Sebest said. “Coach [Kim] Grisdale and coach [Tim] Dyer told me to go slow that first mile. The goal was 6:15, I ran 6:14 and when the girls in front of me started dropping back, I just decided to catch them.”

Just a sophomore, Stanish loves to compete with Sebest.

“It’s always a battle between Maggie and me and I’m very happy for her today,” Stanish said. “I usually go out too fast, around 6:05 but today I tried to make it 6:15. We have a really nice team and if we can do well at regionals, then can get to state and that would be a great accomplishment.”

Bulldogs head coach Kim Grisdale loves the fact that there’s competition between her top two runners.

“Maggie’s been a really strong kid. She went through a tough training spell last year and has used that to drive her this year,” Grisdale said. “She such a competitor. Gianna is a great teammate in that neither wants to lose. It’s sometimes tough for them to train together because they push each other so hard.

“Plus, our young runners give us a lot of depth. We’re constantly changing our No. 3 through No.10 runners every race and four of those runners are freshmen. It’s nice to have depth in cross country, especially when youth provides that depth.”

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