by Roger Gordon | Correspondent
Life is full of lessons. All you can do is learn from them.
Ryan Riter sure did.
The Tallmadge junior cross country runner finished 23rd with a time of 17 minutes, 45.7 seconds Aug. 27 at the Berkshire Early Bird Invitational at the Kent State University Geauga in Burton.
"Ryan went out a little too quick," Blue Devils head coach Jeremy Huth said. "He got a little overzealous that first mile. He came through the first mile at around 5:12, which is extremely fast for him. So he kind of self-destructed from that point on.
"Once that fatigue starts setting in -- which it definitely did at the mile mark for him -- it's hard to bounce back. So he struggled to maintain any type of pace the rest of the way."
It was a learning experience for Riter.
Four days later, on Aug. 31 in a 28-31 loss against Field at Wingfoot Lake State Park in Suffield, Riter came out of the gate slower than he did at the Berkshire competition.
The result? He won the meet with a time of 18 minutes.
"At the first-mile mark, Ryan was in second place," Huth said. "Field's No. 1 guy went out too quick. Ryan then made his move and earned his first high school victory.
"It's hard to be patient, but we train at a pace and the guys need to run at that pace during a meet. You can't overdo it because you're not going to come back."
In the Berkshire meet, Tallmadge finished in eighth place with 235 points. Solon won the 16-team event with 27 points. Strongsville was runner-up with 103 points and Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin took third with 116 points.
"I thought we'd do better," said Huth. "Ryan wasn't the only one who got out too fast. If you go out hard and hit that wall, your race is over. You make a bad decision in the first three or four minutes, it can cost you. And that's what some of our guys did."
Solon's Joe Riordan placed first out of 143 runners with a clocking of 16:10.6 at Berkshire.
Sophomore Zack Brown was next for the Blue Devils in 36th at Berkshire with a time of 18:32.6.
"Zack's job is to maintain as close contact as possible with Ryan," Huth said. "He's a tough kid."
Brown's classmate, Alex Krukemeyer, placed 58th with a time of 19:24.8.
"Alex is going to be our wild-card guy," Huth said. "We definitely have to have him come through. I thought he ran a fairly consistent, good race."
Two more sophomores, Andrew Hopkins (63rd, 19:28.1) and Lucca Passarelli (73rd, 20:04.8) rounded out Tallmadge's scorers.
In the meet against Field, junior Vince Labosky was the runner-up with a time of 18:15.
"Vince stayed right with Ryan for the first two miles," Huth said. "Like Ryan, he ran a smart race. I'm very proud of him."
Brown finished fifth with a time of 18:51. Senior Jordan Sapper (11th, 20:10) and sophomore Nick Sabetta (12th, 20:18) rounded out the Blue Devils' scorers.
Tallmadge was scheduled to compete in the Suburban League Super Duals Sept. 3 at Silver Creek Park in Norton. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils are set to run at the Bruce Lerch Invitational-Brecksville Sept. 10 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School. Racing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.