INDEPENDENCE—What a difference a year makes.
Last spring, Cardinal’s girls track team finished third in a four-team Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division meet. The CVC then combined the Metro and Valley Divisions for the 2015-2016 school year.
The added competition only helped the Huskies as they finished third again behind Kirtland and Independence. Hawken was fourth, Berkshire was fifth, Cuyahoga Heights was sixth, Fairport Harding was seventh and Richmond Heights finished eighth.
“I thought we had a nice effort by everybody,” said Cardinal coach Greg Cicero. “Last year our girls finished third in a four team conference. We've come a long way in a year. I thought the girls were quite a bit more focused than they have all season. They came out and gave it their best shot. Kirtland is a good team and they're deep. We just fell a little short.”
The Huskies finished fifth in the boys competition.
Leading the way for Cardinal was junior Erin Ross, who finished second in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles and led two relay teams to runner-up finishes.
Ross finished second to Kirtland’s Katie Straus in the both hurdles events. She ran a 16.59-second time in the 100 hurdles, less than two seconds behind Straus, and a 48.63 in the 300 hurdles.
“I love that she's chasing Katie, especially in those two hurdle races,” Cicero said. “Katie is going to be somewhere in the top at the state meet so the more experience Erin gets running with her and even being behind her is going to prepare her for districts and regionals”
Ross teamed up with sophomore Ally Almy, junior Trisha Cesar and senior Caitlyn Lechene to finish second in the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:53.21. She then closed out the meet in the 4×400-meter relay with senior Emily Kruse, Lechene and sophomore Megan Maddox. That group completed the race in 4:22.15.
“Last year, Erin had a good season and this year she really has stepped up,” Cicero said. “She has realized she can do a lot more and be faster. She has worked on her hurdle approach quite a bit and she has a really solid night.”
Kruse finished second in the 800 and 1600-meter runs and helped the Huskies’ 4×800-meter relay team finish third.
She finished the 800 in 2:33.95 and the 1600 in 5:48.49. She teamed up with Maddox, sophomore Paige Webb and freshman Camille Cummins to run the 4×800 in 10:41.04.
“Emily Kruse had a great meet tonight,” Cicero said. “She ran a personal best in the mile by over 10 seconds and she ran her best time of the season in the 800 and she ran a nice leg in the 4×4.”
Ross and Kruse were motivated by more than just all-conference honors.
“We do our athlete of the week thing, we give t-shirts out, and Erin and Emily haven't been given one this year,” Cicero said. “Halfway through the meet I was like, 'You guys finally earned your shirts.' They were really happy. Sometimes it's the simple things.”
Lechene closed out her career with all-conference honors in two relays and another near miss in the 300 hurdles. She placed fourth in that event with a time of 51.19 and also scored for the Huskies in the 800 with an eighth place finish in a time of 29.80.
“Caitlyn had a rough track career,” Cicero said. “She got hurt at the end of her freshman year and tore her ACL at the beginning of her sophomore year so she has been talking all week about earning CVC honors in something. She really tried in the 300 hurdles and got fourth, which is a great race for her. It's her season best. She ran great legs in the 4×2 and 4×4 earning second team all-CVC honors.”
Cicero also recognized Almy for her efforts, despite some lingering injuries.
She ran a leg in the 4×200 and 4×100-meter relays and finished seventh in the high jump by clearing 4-feet, 2-inches. She teamed up with freshman Adrianna Naples and sophomores Marina Cooper and Mackenzie Conley to finish fourth in the 4×100 with a time of 57.20.
“Ally Almy did a great job leading off our 4×2,” Cicero said. “She ran her season best split by quite a bit and put us in a nice position to keep us rolling in that relay. She's been battling some injuries but comes to each meet really ready to run.”
Sophomore Anna Avalon finished second in the discus with a throw of 105-6 while junior Jordyn Schulz finished sixth (95-3).
“That was huge,” Cicero said. “Anna really came through for us. Jordyn struggled a little bit for us and Anna really stepped up and did a great job for us.”
Freshman Kaylee Klepper won the shot put (31 ½) and Schultz was sixth (30 ½).
Other Cardinal scorers included Cooper, who was fifth in the 100 hurdles (18.34), Cesar, who was sixth in the 100-meter dash (14.11) and seventh in the pole vault (6-6), senior Noel Springer, who was seventh in the 3200, and Cummins, who finished eighth in the 1600 (6:09.83).
Senior Nate Peters turned in a strong performance in the field events.
He won the shot put with a toss of 48-feet, 4-inches and was fourth in the discus (131-00).
“Nate had a monster throw to win shot,” Cicero said. “It was about six inches further than his personal best. I don't think he threw less than mid-45s in any of his throws. He was just on it. He had a great practice on Wednesday. Every throw was real far and he had great height. His speed was good and he carried that into tonight and was the conference champ.”
Senior Craig Shanower placed in four events for the Huskies.
He was second in the 300 hurdles (43.38), third in the 200-meter dash (24.40) and ran legs in the 4×200 and 4×400-meter relays, which both finished fourth.
Shanower teamed up with freshman Tyson Sinclair and sophomores Jacob Revak and Ben Lobdell to run a 1:38.33 time in the 4×200 and that same group finished the 4×4 in 3:45.08.
“As a freshman and sophomore we really couldn't find him an individual event to run,” Cicero said of Shanower. “He was on a lot of our relays. Tonight, he's been really hungry in the 300 hurdles all year and took second in that. That was an awesome race; his personal best. He came back after that and ran the 200 and surprised me taking third. He put punctuation on it by running a three second best in the 4×4 and passed Kirtland right at the line. That was a great way to end the night for him.”
Junior Kyle Simms had two third place finishes and teamed up with freshman Connor Sodee, sophomore Andrew Bolton and Sinclair to place seventh in the 4×100-meter relay with a time of 48.97 seconds.
He finished the 300 hurdles in 43.85 and the 110 hurdles in 17.72 seconds.
“Kyle Simms had two really good hurdle races,” Cicero said. “He took third in both. He hit the second hurdle in the 110s again. That's been a problem most of the year but he was able to recover and push through to the finish. In the 300s him and Craig have a rivalry going on and they were battling it out right to the end. When they can push each other like that it's great for us.”
Revak also scored in the 400 with a sixth place finish in a time of 56.31 seconds.