Battling a steady, cold rain and slippery course conditions, Woodridge senior Madison Spreitzer took advantage of “her kind of day” to take first place at a Division II cross country meet at Goodyear Heights Metro Park in Akron on Saturday.
Cross country runners often like cold, even wet, conditions as long as the course remains clean. To Spreitzer, it’s the muddier the better.
“For other teams it’s harder but my team, we’re mudders,” said Spreitzer, who finished with a time of 19:42.56. “Our team is skilled in these conditions so we’re excited when we see it.”
Spreitzer remained near the front with several St. Vincent-St. Mary and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy runners for much of the race. In the last 50 meters, she found extra kick and created some separation from the field.
“I always have this kick in the end,” she said. “Not that I don’t run hard enough, but there’s something deep inside of me, I don’t know if it’s adrenaline or my heart’s fully in it, but it keeps me going.”
St. V-M won the team race, led by sophomore Rachel Iacofano (19:44.22) and senior Julia Mendiola (19:54.86), who finished in second and third place, respectively. Though Woodridge, which finished 10 points behind St. V-M (29-39), made it close.
For Woodridge, freshman Natalie Fleming, junior Julia Moore, freshman Nicole Fleming and senior Erin Kiley finished in succession, from eighth to 11th place. After St. V-M junior Shea O’Brien, who took 12th, two more Woodridge runners (freshman Clare Willett and senior Allyson Dryer) finished together.
“Our kids are mudders,” Woodridge coach Jeff Howard said. “Our pack stayed together, they could have held hands, most of it. … I think this [weather] would hurt St. V more than it would hurt us. They have a lot more speed, so this is kind of an equalizer.”
St. V-M junior Cynthia Haas (fifth place) and freshman Mia Brady (seventh) helped the Irish’s cause as well.
CVCA (82 points) and Field (90) also advanced on to the regional meet.
In the boys race, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy junior Ryan Adams changed his mindset and it paid off.
In his first two years of running cross country at the high school level, Adams hadn’t done well with the large hill that awaits runners at Goodyear Heights Metro Park. With a new attitude, though, Adams won the race by nearly 20 seconds.
“With the hill, it’s gotten to the point where it all sort of becomes a mental game,” said Adams, who won with a time of 16:41.54. “We train on hills, we do hill workouts. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be chucking up that hill just like it’s a flat course.”
Right behind Adams was his CVCA teammate, senior Ben Bockoven (17:11.43). Adams was relieved with the 1-2 finish, especially considering much of the Royals’ training was done in the heat of summer. Low 50s and a steady rain wasn’t expected.
“It sort of plays with your head a bit and you have to keep a straight head on, but it was fun,” Adams said. “After training and doing all our workouts in the heat and when it’s been dry, it comes to the first postseason race and it’s wet out of nowhere. It’s crazy how that works out.”
CVCA as a team finished in third place (60 points), just ahead of them was Woodridge (59 points) and senior John Harry’s sixth-place finish (17:40.47).
Neither could overcome St. Vincent-St. Mary once the Irish figured out how to run as a group. St. V-M coach Dan Lancianese said the girls at St. V-M had the pack mentality, but the it took the boys longer to come around on the concept.
“We’re trying to do something the girls have been doing, and that’s truly being a pack,” Lancianese said. “The guys stood up to that today. Our objective was to just keep our guys on blue [CVCA] and do what we can with a sea of green.”
Junior Nick Campbell (third place, 17:28.78) and sophomore Brian Heller (fourth place, 17:31.51) led the Irish.