Nordonia cross country coach Mike Martin will be a clean-shaven man again.
His customary mustache will be history after the Knights made some history with a victory Saturday in the Division I girls regional cross country meet at Boardman.
“That’s the deal,” Martin said. “I told them a year ago that I thought we would be pretty good. We haven’t had a team qualify for state in 30 years. This was just a fun thing. All the girls seem to be infatuated with the mustache.
“I have been married for 28 years and my wife [Liz] has never seen my lip,” Martin quipped. “My wife is coming up to the school to see this.”
Martin’s sons, Zak (24) and Nic (19), have never seen their father without a mustache either. They will now as Nordonia prepares for next week’s state meet at Hebron.
Solon sophomore Louiza Wise won the Division I race in a time of 18:44.90 and Walsh Jesuit senior Melinda Renuart placed second in 18:50.32.
Cleveland St. Joseph Academy freshman Maggie Wagner finished third in 19:10.66, GlenOak junior Hannah Thompson was fourth in 19:16.18 and Cuyahoga Falls freshman Emily Zimmerman took fifth in 19:17.11.
Nordonia won the Division I team title with 96 points. GlenOak (105 points), Walsh Jesuit (117 points) and Mentor (145 points) finished second through fourth to punch their ticket to state.
“I thought we ran well today,” Martin said. “We could have probably ran a little better in certain areas. The good thing is we have room for improvement, but you have to have fun and celebrate what we did today.”
Sophomore Dana Risley was Nordonia’s highest placer at sixth with a time of 19:20.73.
“This is just really overwhelming,” Risley said. “I am so excited to do this with my team. I didn’t expect to do this well coming in. I expected to try and get into the top 16.”
Nordonia junior Leah Vasarhelyi placed 14th and crossed the finish line in 19:29.94.
“We have been thinking about this since June,” Vasarhelyi said. “To actually be able to go all the way and accomplish what we have been planning to do is kind of surreal.”
Juniors Heather Ross, sophomore Jaylah Sirca and junior Jenna Dasher also scored for Nordonia.
“I love these girls,” Martin said. “They have such a work ethic and they want to be successful. We will go down there and give it our best effort. A top-5 finish would be great. Anything in the top 10 would be OK. Anything higher than top five would really be special.”
Also placing in the top 16 to advance to the state meet were Brecksville senior Olivia Cook, Twinsburg sophomore Rachael Lovett, Ravenna junior Olivia Chinn and Solon junior Geneva Sandridge.
Crichlow takes second
Boardman senior Mark Hadley won the Division I race in a time of 15:22.50 and guided the Spartans to a team title with 94 points. Twinsburg senior Garrett Crichlow placed second in 15:31.99, Hudson junior Kyle Mau was third in 15:46.19 and Solon senior Kevin Blank took fourth in 15:58.31.
Chardon (117), Louisville (136) and Twinsburg (138) were second through fourth in the team standings.
Other area runners in the top 16 were: Lake junior Jacob Kernell, Hudson sophomore Gavin Gaynor, Tallmadge senior Patrick Ferguson, Wooster junior Kevin White, Twinsburg seniors Nick Schank and Matt Andrews and Nordonia senior Zac Thaxton.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.