State meet is today in Hebron
By BOB ETTINGER
Badger junior Miranda Stanhope was staggered momentarily following the announcement the Ohio Athletic Association had postponed the State Cross Country Championships for one week.
Now that the moment is upon her, the junior believes the extra time to prepare has helped.
“Immediately, [the Nov. 1 postponement] was a huge shock,” Stanhope said. “I didn’t really consider that the state meet would be postponed, despite the rain.
“After the shock, I went back to training. It didn’t really have an impact. The extra work, in some ways, helped me relax. Last week, there was a lot going on. I was still calming down from the regional. [The extra time] helped me relax.”
Stanhope, who won the Boardman regional on Oct. 27, and Vinny Mauri of Howland, the Division I boys champion at Boardman, will continue their pursuit of a state title today at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
Stanhope, appearing in the state meet for the third time, will be in the girls Div. III race at 1:30 p.m.
Mauri, also competing for the third time, will take to the course at 12:30 p.m.
“Since my freshman year, when I placed ninth, placing high has always been the goal,” Stanhope said. “This year, I’ve put in a lot of work.
“My goal at the beginning of the season was to win state. I feel pretty confident. I’ve done everything I can to win that state title. It comes down to what kind of a race I have and what kind of race my competitors have.”
Mauri said he believes his preparation will put him in a position to win.
“I made a big jump from cross country to track last year,” Mauri said. “I want to perform to the best of my ability.
“I’ve already gotten my time goal. Pretty much the goal I have left before nationals is to win a state championship. My confidence comes from all my training and workouts. Nobody in the state and maybe nobody in the country has done what I’ve done. I can compete better than anyone else in the state.”
The McDonald girls team features Anna Guerra, Sela Jones, Bella Wolford, Sophie Klase, Janessa Martinelli, Grace Kowecki and Riley Matig. They will compete as a team in Div. III.
“We’re ranked ninth, getting into the top five would be a great day,” McDonald girls coach Mike Richards said. “It’s not that I don’t believe in the girls, because I do.
“We have a number of our top runners [back] from last year. The girls have really come together to get back to state. I had them on the steps. There were 10 steps. I had them stand on the ninth step and asked them how high they could climb. That will be out mantra Saturday.”
Guerra, who was just 17 seconds behind Stanhope in second place at the regional, has her own designs on a spot near — or at — the top of the podium.
“[The regional] did [help my confidence],” Guerra said. “I didn’t think I’d be that close to Miranda. Usually, she beats me by about a minute. It did boost my confidence. It gives me more confidence I can race with those girls. I just hope to hook onto them and have them pull me through the race.”
The Blue Devils boys team will run as a unit in the Div. III event to start the day at 11 a.m. Running for the Blue Devils will be Connor Symbolik, Brody Rupe, Zack Canada, Elliot Gibbons, Carson Fortune, Greg Dickson and Eli Street.
“We’re ranked sixth,” McDonald boys coach Chris Rupe said. “Anything higher is what we’re after. It’s been an odd season in a lot of different ways.
“We’re excited and honored to be able to put seven guys on that starting line. We’ll see what we can do. No predictions [on where we’ll place], but I do predict we’ll give it our best shot and we’ll have seven guys ready for whatever is thrown at them.”
Mineral Ridge will be in the field McDonald with the McDonald girls. The Rams’ representatives are Sylvia Traw, Riley Cowles, Moriah-Ruth Toth, Hannah-Abigail Toth, Olivia Jackson, Natalie Bacak and Sarah Pezzenti.
Also competing in the Div. III girls race will be Jessica Wilk of Lordstown.
Joining Mauri in the Div. I race will be Canfield’s Giovanni Copploe, who was fourth in the regional in 16:25, and Boardman’s Mitchel Dunham, who placed 12th.
Salem, which was fifth in the regional as a team, will compete in the Div. II race, slated to start at 11:45 a.m. The Quakers will be represented by Hunter Christopher, Trey Double, Grant Menough, Jacob McLachlan, Owen Kirkland and Devin Koskinen and Cameron Christopher.
West Branch’s Jeff Joseph will run in Div. II.
Maplewood qualified in Div. III as a team after placing fourth at Boardman. Hunter Omerzo, Mark Kirch, Ryan Dancison, Ethan Faatz, John Crouch, Matt Freel and Austin Dority will run for the Rockets.
Jackie Grisdale and Halle Sebest of Poland will run the girls Div. II race at 2:15 p.m.