BURTON—Kirtland’s girls’ cross country team got off to a fast start on Saturday as the Hornets finished in seventh place at the 2016 Berkshire Early Bird Invitational at Kent State University’s Geauga Campus.
It was Kirtland’s first Top 10 finish since 2008, when they finished sixth. The Hornets won the event in 2006.
“That was the first varsity invitational for a lot of kids,” said Kirtland coach JP Moran. “We did three preseason 5Ks at Lake Farmpark, but they’re not in uniform and it was in the evening and open to the public. They just had a different feel. I’m really happy they got out there and competed like that.”
Freshman Lauren Snyder was Kirtland’s top finisher overall.
She finished the race in 21:31, good for 12th place, and her sister Sydney Snyder, a junior, was 20th with a time of 21:48.
“Those two places were huge,” Moran said. “If we go to a smaller meet, with schools our size, I think their places are going to be even lower than a 12 and a 20. I think that’s going to bode well for us this year. They were going against some great competition from huge schools like Solon and Strongsville. I’m glad they got to see it. It’s good for them to see that competition and to go after some people.”
The rest of the Hornets also turned in strong performances as nine of the 10 who competed last year improved their times.
Andrea Frankel and Ellie David both knocked off a minute from their 2015 time while Zoe Gregory ran faster by 1 minute, 13 seconds and Holly Samf knocked off a minute and a half from her race last fall. Emily Crebs cut over two minutes off her 2015 race time.
“It was a really big improvement for everyone that ran last year,” Moran said. “All the guys were faster too.”
Colton Zanko, who led the Hornets with a 19:25, knocked off 41 seconds and Jake Grdadolnik cut 54 seconds off his finish. Kirk Brauer trimmed his Invitational finish by 1 minute, 50 seconds and Konnor Duncan cut 2:52 off his time.
"Jake’s overall (personal record) was 19:45 and he’s only 10 seconds off his lifetime PR on cross country courses and it’s the first meet,” Moran said. “He put in a great summer. He did well.”
“Emily put in a great summer,” Moran said. “She went to running camps and really worked hard. Holly ran this summer and Zoe and Andrea were over a minute faster.”
The Hornets return to the trail on Saturday when they travel to Kenston.