Kirtland cross country coach JP Moran knew his Hornets were a longshot to be among the top four teams at Saturday’s district meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.
He hoped for the best but settled for some strong individual performances as the boys’ team finished 10th overall and the girls were eighth.
“We had a couple bright spots,” Moran said. “We had three freshmen run lifetime PRs. Konnor Duncan and Kirk Brauer both ran lifetime PRs. Konnor ran in the mid-19’s, so he ran really well from where he started the season. Kirk’s first race was like a half an hour and he ended up with a 23:09. Ellie David ended up being our No. 1. She actually ran over a minute lifetime PR, so she really popped a good race.”
Kirtland seniors Kevin Cummings and Christine Walsh, the Hornets’ top runners all season long, finished 24th and 39th, respectively.
Cummings finished the race in 18:06.
“We were expecting him to be in the mid to high 17s and we thought that would put him around that last spot,” Moran said. “He ended up running probably his second or third best race of the season and missed (advancing) by eight spots, but he would have really had to run a huge PR to get out. Kevin went out with the lead pack. He went for it but he just wasn’t quite able to hold on.”
Hampered by a lingering leg injury, Walsh closed out her season with a time of 23:35.
“Christine was obviously really upset,” Moran said. “She’s been limping all week. It was good for her to even go out and even run the race in the 23s and be our No. 2. I knew going in Christine and Kevin were really our best shots at getting out but they really were on the bubble. They had to pop it and other people had to falter. With Christine’s injury, I just felt bad for the seniors.”
Senior Josh Mansfield was 62nd with a time of 20:30.
Kirtland’s underclassmen showed promise for the future.
Freshman Andrea Frankel was 49th with a time of 24:37 and Sabrina Rahz (24:55), Maria Shepard (25:53), Emily Crebs (25:59), Holly Samf (26:23) and Colton Zanko (21:44) also competed for the Hornets.
“We had a lot of positive things from the young kids,” Moran said. Holly Samf had a season PR. She was our No. 7 and ended up running a season PR. That’s a pretty good way for her to end. All the freshmen girls are improving. Andrea was still in the top three in our team and Ellie ran a lifetime PR by over a minute.”
That improvement has Moran looking forward to the future.
“I’m sitting there, obviously every bit of you wants to go to regionals, so there’s that part of you that’s getting, not angry, but bummed out, and all the freshmen were sitting there going, ‘This is such a great experience. I’m really glad I came out for cross country because it’s kind of an intimidating sport,’” Moran said. “I guess that made me feel a little bit better that they had a good experience and a lot of them are looking forward to track.”