Kirtland advanced just two runners to next weekend’s Division III regional cross country meet, but the Hornets turned in a strong performance at the district competition at Ella Canavan Elementary School in Medina on Saturday.
Junior Konnor Duncan became the first member of the Kirtland boys’ team to advance since 2010 and freshman Julie Namciu ran a new personal record that also moved her into the top 25 fastest times in school history.
The Kirtland girls finished in fourth place overall. The top three teams advanced to regionals.
“That was kind of a heartbreaker but we weren’t really expected to make it,” said Kirtland coach JP Moran. “I kept telling the girls we had a shot but it just didn’t come together for us. We just got beat by a better team at the end of the day. We’d have had to have everybody hitting on all cylinders.”
Gilmour finished first in the girls’ race while Independence and Smithville rounded out the top three.
Namciu finished in 11th place overall with a time of 20:56.
“That was the 21st fastest time in school history,” Moran said. “She has progressed all year and she started figuring out racing a 5K as she got more race experience. She ran her best at the right time and is going to regionals as a freshman; I’m real excited about that.”
Sydney Snyder narrowly missed a return trip to regionals as she finished 18th in 21:41.
Lauren Snyder (21:59), Aimee Baldrey (23:42), Emily Crebs (23:55), Andrea Frankel (24:05) and Holly Samf (25:22) also ran for the Hornets.
Led by Duncan, Kirtland’s boys finished seventh.
Duncan finished 14th with a time of 18:05.
“He’s a really intelligent racer,” Moran said. “He made sure to put himself at the mile marker in place to get out and he was consistent in staying at that place. He only lost one or two spots from the one-mile mark to the finish. He knew where he needed to be and he stayed in that spot.”
Duncan will use a similar strategy at the regional meet.
“To get ready for this Saturday, I’m gonna’ follow everything my coach says to maximize my chances of success,” he said.
Colton Zanko (18:35), Jake Grdadolnik (18:45), Nick Briggs (19:32), Ian McGreal (19:54), Andrew Schneider (20:53) and Jonny Jackson (21:24) also represented the Hornets in the boys’ race.