Independence’s cross country teams competed at the Legends Meet on Saturday in a final tune-up for the postseason.
Head coach Craig Polman saw a lot of improvement out of some of his runners and in others, he knows they’ll need to pick up the pace heading into the league meet this Saturday.
“Overall, I think it was a mixed day,” Polman said.
The day started with freshman P.J. Oschmann setting a new personal record by almost 30 seconds when he finished in 18:36.
“P.J. had the race of the day for our team,” Polman said. “It was clearly his best race of the season and that’s more in line with where he should be racing. He’s been in shape but hasn’t been running all that fast. He put it all together and ran a nice, steady race and was strong all the way through the finish.”
Freshman Collin Patton returned from an injury to finish just behind Oschmann in 18:58.
“Collin had a week off because of injury and it showed,” Polman said. “Even taking a week off at this level, the performance suffers. He didn’t have the greatest of races, most significantly the last mile of the race. He was within second or two of P.J. at the two-mile mark but P.J. put probably about 30 seconds on him between there and the finish. I think the impact was the week of not running.”
Sophomores Thorin Chappel (24:47) and Gregory Adams (29:24) also competed for the Blue Devils.
The girls’ race began just as the sun popped out from behind the clouds, which led to some slower times across the board.
Freshman Makenna McGhee led the Blue Devils with a 27th place finish in 20:15.
“The Legends meet was a very competitive race,” McGhee said. “I did not get the start I needed, but made up some places in the second half of the race. I just missed out on the top 25 but was right there at the end and finished with some fast girls.”
Sophomore Emily Skoczen clocked a time of 20:58 to finish 41st.
“I think my time could have been faster but I was happy with how I placed among other runners,” she said. “I’m excited for the postseason, especially because we have a girls’ team this year. We have to work hard at practice this week and focus on the conference meet on Saturday.”
Junior Erica Esper (23:48), sophomore Izabell McGreevy (24:42) and junior Emma Wensink (26:22) also ran for the Blue Devils.
“We were missing Josie Lee, who has been our No. 3 or No. 4 runner,” Polman said. “Erica ran about what she normally does for us but we need a little more help from our fourth and fifth spots. We were about 100 points behind Berkshire and Kirtland and with some better running and with Josie we might have been right in the mix.”
The Blue Devils will get another shot at their league rivals on Saturday when they travel to Kent State’s Geauga County campus for the 2017 Chagrin Valley Conference Meet.
While Hawken is the prohibitive favorite, several teams are in position to finish among the top two or three.
“Hawken is easily the best team on the girls’ side,” Polman said. “After that, there are a handful of teams in the mix and I think we fit in with those teams if we have everybody and we’re ready to go that day, but I’m sure all the teams are saying that.”