by Roger Gordon
There are some cross country runners who fare better on tough terrain and hilly courses. They're built for it.
Kenna Loveless is not one of those runners. That's why Tallmadge head coach Jeremy Huth was thrilled with the freshman's performance Oct. 1 at the Woodridge Cuyahoga Valley National Park Invitational at Kendall Hills in Peninsula.
She finished in fifth place out of 161 runners with a time of 21 minutes, 43 seconds.
"I thought Kenna would struggle because of the hilly course and because she was running against Woodridge, which is probably one of the top teams in the entire state in any division," Huth said.
"But she probably had her best race this season. She really improved on racing tactics.
"She got out quick and she separated herself from the rest of the field.
"You always have a couple top-notch runners out front, but sometimes, you just have to let them go because they're the best in the state.
"Kenna just kind of held on to that front pack and never let anybody behind her catch her.
"She beat a lot of girls who beat her a couple weeks ago at Brecksville. She ran a great race. She battled every hill and just maintained consistency."
Grand Valley's Grace Steimle finished in first place with a time of 20:47.2.
Overall, the Lady Blue Devils finished in fifth place out of 20 teams with 215 points.
Woodridge won the competition with 38 points. Twinsburg placed second with 53 points and Brecksville-Broadview Heights took third with 122 points. Fort Loramie finished fourth with 167 points.
"I was happy with our finish," Huth said. "To be in fifth place is definitely an accomplishment."
Tallmadge freshman Morgan Moses finished 37th with a time of 24:13.5.
"For Morgan to be close to the top 30 is great," Huth said. "She does better with tougher terrain, so this course definitely suited her. Morgan and Kenna being that high up helped our overall score."
Vanessa Lane, Miranda Pyka and Autumn Wanchick finished relatively close to one another, which brought a smile to Huth's face.
Lane, a senior, finished 53rd (25:03.2). Pyka, a junior, placed 64th (25:34) and Wanchick, a sophomore, took 75th (25:47.7).
"Vanessa had a great race," Huth said. "We challenged Miranda to respond to some adversity and step up and she did just that. Autumn continues to get better every week."
Tallmadge was scheduled to compete in the Stow Bulldog Invitational Oct. 8 at Silver Springs Park, but results were not available at press time.
The Lady Blue Devils is set to take part in the Suburban League Championship Oct. 15 at Goodyear Metro Park in Akron.
The meet is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.