Independence seniors Tyler Polman and Dana Zaccardelli are headed back to the state cross country meet for the third time in their high school running careers.
Polman won the boys’ Division III Youngstown Regional on Saturday while Zaccardelli finished 13th in the girls’ race. The top 16 in each race earned a berth in the state meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron on Saturday, Nov. 5.
“It feels really good to be back at states for the third year out of my four years of high school,” said Zaccardelli, who finished the regional in 20:33.21. “I was satisfied with my time. The course was running slower time-wise compared to last year.”
Zaccardelli previously earned a medal at the state meet when she finished 11th as a freshman. She was 59th last year.
Polman claimed his first regional title after finishing second in 2015 and fourth in 2013. He went on to finish sixth at the state meet in both seasons.
“It felt incredible claiming my first regional title on Saturday,” Polman said. “I firmly believe this win was redemption for not being able to compete at regionals sophomore year.”
Polman, who ran a time of 16:17.48 on Saturday, beat Garfield’s Tyler Klouda by 20 seconds.
“Although I was confident in myself and my preparation for this race, I was surprised about the outcome of the race,” he said. “Coming into the race, I believed that I had a great shot at claiming the gold, but I expected the race to be closer. I got out to the lead within the first 600 meters and wasn't challenged the rest of the race.”
Polman hopes to become the second member of his family to win a state cross country championship. Ryan Polman won in 2009, the same year the Blue Devils won the team title, and also finished second, fifth and 20th in his four-year career.
Kyle Polman finished third, fourth, ninth and 12th while a Blue Devil.
“I'm motivated and prepared to run at the state meet this weekend,” Tyler Polman said. “My ultimate goal is to go after the state title and possibly run a PR in the process.”