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by Roger Gordon
Tallmadge head girls cross country coach Jeremy Huth was shocked when he saw that his team finished fifth at the 15-team Bruce Lerch Invitational Sept. 10 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
"Based on our individual performances, I thought we were going to be lower," he said. "It was a good finish, but it's not where we want to be right now. We definitely have to get a lot better. We're still not running together enough.
"Right now, we're in a little slump both mentally and physically. The physical aspect we have to overcome is 'This is not going to be easy.' The mental aspect we must overcome is 'Can I do it?'
"We do it right in practice, stay together as a pack. I wouldn't be frustrated if I didn't see it in practice. I know we're capable of doing it, but the results are not there on Saturdays."
Tallmadge finished with 183 points. Woodridge won the event by winning a tiebreaker with Woodridge. Both teams scored 39 points.
Brecksville took third with 93 points and Rocky River finished fourth with 111 points.
Freshman Kenna Loveless was, as always, the Lady Blue Devils' leading runner. She struggled due to the hilly course, but most runners would love to "struggle" like that. She finished in eighth place with a time of 21 minutes, 50 seconds.
"Kenna went out and ran right up in the top three or four for the first mile," Huth said. "The experience and the strength are not there yet for her, so she'll definitely struggle on a course like that. She made a couple good moves late in the race. She has got a ton of natural ability."
Rocky River's Anna Brandt won the competition with a time of 20:18. A total of 121 runners competed.
Tallmadge freshman Morgan Moses finished 28th with a time of 23:32.
"Morgan did a phenomenal job," Huth said. "She ran a great race."
Placing 39th with a time of 24:23 was senior Vanessa Lane.
"Vanessa has struggled lately with some knee pain," Huth said. "It wasn't her best race by far, but she battled throughout the course. She finished about where she should have."
Rounding out Tallmadge's scorers were sophomore Autumn Wanchick (59th, 25:57) and freshman Claire Cate (64th, 26:19).
"It probably wasn't the race that Autumn was looking for," Huth said. "We expect more out of her. She can be a top-three runner on our team, even our No. 2 runner, if she wants to be. We've been working with her on 'What does it take to be a No. 2 runner? Are you willing to go after that?'
"Our top-five finish came down to Claire. She had a solid performance and helped us out."
Tallmadge was scheduled to compete at the Galion Cross Country Festival Sept. 17 at Amann Reservoir and Park. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils get a week off and are set to run in the Woodridge Invitational Oct. 1 at Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Kendall Hills. Racing is scheduled to begin at noon.