Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
October 19, 2017
The Kenston cross-country boys continue to play the same broken record for their poor fellow harriers in the Western Reserve Conference, but the disc jams keep getter better for the Bombers who were dancing with another league crown on Saturday.
With seven runners finishing in the top 10, Kenston blew away its competition for its third straight WRC title at the Bombers’ home 5-kilometer course in Bainbridge.
Scoring 24 points from its front five runners, Kenston defeated runner-up Chardon, 64 points, third-place Mayfield, 93 points, and the rest of the seven-team field. The Brush boys only had four runners this year for an incomplete team.
Chardon senior Nate Kawalec defended his individual title in 15:29.2, besting Kenston runner-up junior Jakob McConnell, 16:09.5, and Mayfield third-place senior Ben Browngardt, 16:32.7.
The Bombers have never hung their hat on a one-man show, but rather a pack mentality that has carried them to repeat success under 11th-year head coach Chris Ickes, who also led his program to three straight Chagrin Valley Conference titles, from 2012 to 2014, before joining the WRC.
And the only reason the 2011 Bombers didn’t win the CVC title was because he rested his runners for the postseason that fall.
Joining McConnell as scorers for Kenston on Saturday, senior Sam Markel finished fourth in 16:36.7, sophomore Jordan Knapp took fifth in 16:40.5, senior Will Britton was sixth in 16:44.3 and senior Will Grendell finished seventh in 16:45.2 – all five guys earned first-team all-conference honors with an average time of 16:35.26 and a 35.7-second gap.
Rounding out the Bombers’ varsity squad, junior Kyle Silk finished ninth in 16:52.4 and senior Jacob Sandoval took 10th in 16:55.7 to earn second-team all-conference recognition.
With no limit on race entries, there were 170 male runners in the field Saturday. The Kenston boys could have added up their front eight runners and still defeated runner-up Chardon’s front five.
Also with top performances for the Bombers, sophomore David Rosinski finished 18th in 17:33.7 and freshman Jack Turk took 19th in 17:34.2. While they were Kenston’s eighth and ninth runners, they would have been scorers for any other team in the field.
Entering the WRC meet, Kenston was ranked No. 14 among Division I programs in the state, according to the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches weekly poll. The Bombers have been ranked as high as eighth this season, but their focus has always been geared toward performing at their best in the postseason.
Overall, the Kenston boys won five meets this fall, including the Green Bulldog Invitational on Aug. 26, the Bombers’ host Frank Gibas Invite on Sept. 2, the 20-team Woodridge Invite on Sept. 30, the 24-team Medina Festival on Oct. 8 and the WRC meet on Saturday.
During the Medina Festival, Kenston’s McConnell finished runner-up in 15:56.37 among 189 runners, bested only by Howland junior Vincent Mauri’s winning time of 15:42.18.
Also scoring for Kenston in that meet, Markel finished 11th in 16:52.52, Silk finished 14th in 16:54.91, Britton took 15th in 16:56.64 and Grendell was 18th in 17:06.74. The Bombers posted 60 points to best runner-up Medina, 106 points, and third-place Highland, 109 points.
The Kenston girls, meanwhile, finished runners-up during the WRC championship meet on Saturday, posting 65 points from their front five runners to edge third-place Mayfield, 68 points. The Chardon girls defended their title with 28 points, with Lady Hilltopper junior Denali Selent winning the race in 19:24.5.
The Lady Bombers, under the direction of Ickes for the first season, improved from a sixth-place finish from a year ago, in large thanks to some freshman firepower.
Scoring for Kenston, freshman Elyse Pleune finished fourth in 20:25.4 among 130 runners in the field, while senior Loren Gormley finished 11th in 21:24.2, freshman Amelia Witmer-Rich took 15th in 21:32.4, freshman Dylan Britton was 16th in 21:39.3 and junior Kira Weber came in 19th in 21:49.6.
Rounding out the Lady Bombers’ varsity seven, junior Arianna Iosue finished 20th in 21:54.7 and junior Brooklyn Mack took 24th in 22:06.9.
Up next, the Kenston cross-country program will compete in Division I district competition with the girls racing at 12:30 p.m. and the boys at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.
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