There was a point over the summer that Amherst’s Josh Hill wondered if he’d even have a senior cross country season.
He ended up having a historic one.
Hill overcame several injury scares to finish third in the state and become the first boy to earn Lorain County Division I Runner of the Year honors for a third time Monday at a ceremony at Brookside High School. Elyria Catholic’s Marty Coolidge was a three-time winner in Divisions II-III from 2007-09.
Avon senior Jules Frombach picked up her second straight Division I girls runner of the year award, while junior Matt Pettegrew and freshman Madeleine Finton gave Columbia a sweep of the Divisions II-III awards.
Hill began feeling pain in his right leg at the end of July and worried he had a stress fracture that could seriously affect his final high school season. But an MRI on Aug. 9 revealed he had patellar tendinitis instead and he was able to start training for the season again.
“I’m very excited to have gotten this award again,” said Hill, who also had to overcome a concussion and a staph infection. “This season has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through mentally and physically. I’m just happy I could help my team as much as possible. I know they have big things to come next year.”
Hill led the Comets to their first district championship since 1990 and went on to finish second at the Boardman regional before taking third at state.
For his career, he had eight 5K cross country races under 16 minutes although some muddy courses kept that number down this season.
Hill was seventh at state last year and 26th as a sophomore, missing All-Ohio (top 25) by less than a second.
“I feel that I’ve grown much stronger from this season,” Hill said. “It’s one I’ll remember forever.”
Hill’s third-place finish at state is the best by a Lorain County Division I boys runner since Midview’s Charles Lange was third at the 1981 Class AAA meet.
Frombach is a four-time regional qualifier who led Avon to its second Southwestern Conference title in four years and its sixth regional appearance in seven years.
She was second at the SWC meet and third at the Elyria district, where the Eagles finished second.
“My teammates and coaches have been the reason for my success,” Frombach said. “My coaches put a lot of hard work and time into making sure we have a fun and successful season.”
Frombach had a tough day at the Boardman regional, finishing 63rd in the mud and rain.
“Although I didn’t ultimately reach my goal at the end of the season, I value the mental and physical toughness that this sport instilled in me,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the memories and relationships I’ve made through cross country that I will remember for a lifetime.”
Pettegrew finished 14th at the Division III state meet to become the first Columbia boy to earn All-Ohio (top 25) honors.
“To be the runner of the year is a huge improvement,” said Pettegrew, who is the first Raiders boy to get the honor. “What helped me this season was not being satisfied with where I was at. I was able to achieve All-Ohio when I hadn’t even been (to state) before. I was able to win conference, which I also had never done before.”
Pettegrew finished second at the soggy Boardman regional after finishing fifth at the Medina district to lead the Raiders to their first regional berth as a team.
Before that, Pettegrew became the first Columbia boy to win the Patriot Athletic Conference championship.
“I focused on training, practicing hard, as well as running hard in the races to always try and do better,” Pettegrew said. “I’m very excited for next year.”
Finton, who was 71st at the Division III state meet, joins Keystone’s Amanda Winslow (2005) as the only freshmen girls to be named runner of the year. She’s also just the second Columbia girl to be honored for the top spot, joining Karin Coyne (2004).
“It’s been an awesome season,” Finton said. “I didn’t think as a freshman that I would make it to state, but my two coaches always had faith in me. My teammates were very encouraging.
“Making it out of regionals was one of the best moments of my life. Even though I didn’t perform like I wanted to at state, it was an incredible experience. I will have that with me for the rest of my life.”
Finton finished seventh of 12 state qualifiers at the Boardman regional and was third at the Medina district and the PAC meets.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be named runner of the year,” Finton said. “I’m going to try and make this the best offseason. I’m determined to not give up. A hard setback is something that can make you stronger for your career. Another big thing that made me successful this year was having a motivation. The boys team was a huge motivation to me because of how hard they worked and how good they have become. That’s what I strive to be like and it helps having that kind of talent at practice.”
Runner of the Year: Josh Hill, sr. (Amherst)
FIRST TEAM: Jett Wieber, so. (Avon); Matthew Kirsch, jr. (Amherst); Robert Callaway, jr. (Midview); Matt Henry, fr. (Avon Lake); Ryan Keller, jr. (Avon Lake); Muhammad Abdeljaber, jr. (Avon)
SECOND TEAM: Jacob Raesler, so. (Amherst); Devin Baumgartner, sr. (Amherst); Cole Emerine, so. (Avon); Jacob Nasr, sr. (Avon Lake); Michael Kuban, jr. (Avon Lake); Gabe Del Valle, jr. (Amherst); Ethan Barnes, so. (Amherst)
HONORABLE MENTION: Cael Walker, fr. (Amherst); Nick Schulz, so. (Avon Lake); Patrick Bay, sr. (North Ridgeville); Luke Gardner, sr. (Avon); Brandon Wiedl, so. (Avon); Hayden Meek, sr. (Midview); Ryan Hammerschmidt, so. (Avon)
Runner of the Year: Matt Pettegrew, jr. (Columbia)
FIRST TEAM: Stephen Faltay, fr. (Keystone); Luke See, so. (Vermilion); Matt Krese, so. (Elyria Catholic); Isaac Lindo, jr. (Vermilion); Jared Swartz, jr. (Columbia); Ian Smith, jr. (Elyria Catholic)
SECOND TEAM: Dawson Maiden, so. (Keystone); Dylan Coble, jr. (Lake Ridge); Alex Hershberger, so. (Vermilion); Brian Barta, jr. (Columbia); Zach Smith, jr. (Elyria Catholic); Connery Van Dyke, sr. (Elyria Catholic); Joel Pospisil, sr. (Brookside)
HONORABLE MENTION: Zach Baldwin, sr. (Firelands); Scott Saksa, so. (Columbia); Jackson Zsigray, jr. (Elyria Catholic); Kevin Theile, so. (Elyria Catholic); Jay Lin, sr. (Open Door); Nick Wells, jr. (Elyria Catholic); Nick Flinner, so. (Open Door)
Runner of the Year: Jules Frombach, sr. (Avon)
FIRST TEAM: Maggie Jantz, so. (Avon Lake); Riley Mullen, fr. (Avon Lake); Emily Nemeth, sr. (Elyria); Meadow Smith, so. (Avon); Kalyn Potyrala, sr. (Amherst); Emma Sherban, jr. (Avon Lake)
SECOND TEAM: Madison Coppolino, so. (Avon); Jane Roach, fr. (Avon); Erin Boland, fr. (Avon Lake); Alli Starr, fr. (Avon Lake); Kaylee Haff, so. (Amherst); Isabell Russell, so. (Avon Lake); Olivia Crimaldi, jr. (Avon Lake)
HONORABLE MENTION: Cassidy Hill, sr. (Amherst); Abby Sidloski, sr. (Avon); Victoria Bailey, jr. (Amherst); Francesca Peters, fr. (Midview); Kylie Cope, fr. (North Ridgeville); Evelyn Pelfrey, sr. (Avon); Kayla Snowden, sr. (Amherst)
Runner of the Year: Madeleine Finton, fr. (Columbia)
FIRST TEAM: Alicia Fike, so. (Brookside); Alessandra Davis, jr. (Firelands); Maria Gilles, fr. (Lake Ridge); MacKenzie Allsop, sr. (Firelands); Mackenzie Glass, sr. (Brookside); Maggie Eck, jr. (Open Door)
SECOND TEAM: Kayla Van Dyke, fr. (Elyria Catholic); Emily Watters, sr. (Wellington); Alexandra Velasquez, sr. (Open Door); Maggie Hoffman, sr. (Vermilion); Megan Dobos, jr. (Oberlin); Marissa Meyers, jr. (Brookside); Maggie Rossi, sr. (Vermilion)
HONORABLE MENTION: Leah Nagle, sr. (Elyria Catholic); Clara Smith, jr. (Vermilion); Allison Leopold, fr. (Vermilion); Janae Johnson, sr. (Oberlin); Gianna Foisy, sr. (Elyria Catholic); Jessica Gower, fr. (Brookside); Casey Spatafore, fr. (Keystone); Caitlin Zickefoose, sr. (Open Door)
- Signing day: Five Amherst athletes sign Letters of Intent to attend Division I schools
- High school cross country: Amherst's Josh Hill finishes third at state in Division I; Columbia's Matt Pettegrew makes All-Ohio in Division III
- Columbia's Madeline Finton makes her mark as freshman
- Didn't See him coming: Vermilion runner overcomes odds on state trail
- State cross country meet postponed due to course flooding
- High school cross country: Amherst's Josh Hill headed back to state for third straight year; Columbia's Matt Pettegrew and Madeline Finton making their first trips
- Girls cross country: Youth serving Avon Lake girls well as they make their way down the comeback trail
- Boys cross country: Columbia making big strides just a few years after dropping program