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by Roger Gordon
Setting a school record is a tremendous achievement.
Setting a school record as a freshman is, well, almost unheard of.
That is unless you are Kenna Loveless.
The Tallmadge freshman cross country runner did indeed set a school record Sept. 17 in the Galion Cross Country Festival at Amann Reservoir and Park.
Loveless finished in third place out of 145 runners with a time of 19 minutes, 16.4 seconds, besting former Lady Blue Devil Jackie Kozak's time of 19:25.
Liberty Union's Sydnee Mangette won the event with a time of 17:58.8
"Kenna had a phenomenal performance," Tallmadge head coach Jeremy Huth said. "To set the school record as a freshman was unbelievable.
"She came through the first mile looking great. She made a really good move during the last mile to try to pull herself away to get second, but it kind of backfired on her a little bit.
"She also got a cramp but fought through it. She regrouped, though. She made wise choices, ran the course perfectly.
"As a freshman, you wouldn't expect that, but she did it. I'm really proud of her."
Overall, the Lady Blue Devils finished in ninth place with 248 points.
Lexington won the 22-team Division II competition with 101 points, winning a tiebreaker over Liberty Union (Baltimore, Ohio), which also finished with 101 points.
Shelby was in third place with 174 points.
"You don't know how valuable your third, fourth and fifth runners are until they don't perform well and it hurts the overall team score," Huth said.
"We just have to continue to work on trying to get those girls closer together."
Loveless' classmate, Morgan Moses, finished 31st with a time of 21:04.2.
"For a freshman, finishing almost in the top 30 is pretty good," Huth said. "Morgan definitely had a better race than in the previous weeks, but she can continue to improve.
"Being as young as she is, she's going to get better and better, especially against teams that are more her size."
Senior Vanessa Lane finished 56th (22:00.7), junior Miranda Pyka placed 74th (22:19.6) and sophomore Autumn Wanchick took 84th (22:49.7).
"Vanessa didn't run her best race but ran well enough to be in our top five," said Huth. "She, Miranda and Autumn are all capable of running better times than what they did.
"I think all three of them were disappointed in their overall performance.
"They just need to work together, do better as a group.
"They need to feed off each other and help one another out."
Tallmadge had a long layoff before its next race.
The Lady Blue Devils are scheduled to run at the Woodridge Cuyahoga Valley National Park Invitational Oct. 1 at Kendall Hills. Racing is set to begin at 9 a.m.