The Amherst girls scored 162 points to slip past Brunswick (170) and Stow (188) for the fourth and final Division I state spot last Saturday at the regional meet in Tiffin.
It’s the Comets’ third state berth since 2002 and seventh since 1990.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Amherst girls coach Terry Kemp said. “Qualifying to the state meet never gets old.”
Surviving close calls isn’t anything new for Amherst. In 2005, Amherst was fourth at Tiffin, beating Berea on a tiebreaker to get to the state meet.
“I’m just ecstatic,” Kemp said Saturday. “There’s no better word that describes it. They ran with great heart. The top six all had seasonal PRs. It’s a thrill. I’m proud of them. We were blessed.”
Only 17 seconds separated the Amherst girls’ top five finishers.
Senior Michele Molnar led the Comets, taking 32nd (19:45). Freshman Kasey Schuler (37th, 19:53), junior Jane Lehman (39th, 19:55), sophomore Erica Kelly (41st, 19:58) and junior Jessica Bartholomew (43rd, 20:02) rounded out the top five.
“We’re extremely happy,” Molnar said. “We knew we had to go out and do it, and we did. I’m very proud of everyone. We really stepped it up. It’s slowly sinking in. It was nerve-racking waiting around for the final result.”
Molnar, Bartholomew and junior Alyssa Bove were also members of the 2005 squad that qualified to state.
Amherst qualified even though its average time (19:55) was slower than Brunswick (19:54) and Stow (19:53). Sunday’s edition listed incorrect average times for the Comets, Blue Devils and Bulldogs.
Coolidge stays hot
En route to victory, 1924 U.S. Presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge used the campaign slogan, “Keep cool with Coolidge.”
Elyria Catholic is upbeat about the chances of another Coolidge.
EC sophomore Marty Coolidge earned a ticket to state, taking fourth in 16:10 in the Division II boys regional race. It’s the second year in a row an EC runner turned the trick. Chris Kuhman did it a year ago.
“I just ran my race the way I was supposed to,” said Coolidge, who was 39th last year (18:17) at regionals. “It feels very good. It was my goal for the year, so I guess I can believe it.”
Coolidge’s time was a personal-record by 6 seconds.
“He followed his race plan pretty well and it worked out good for him,” EC coach Chuck Lynch said. “He ran very well. He’s a lot like Kuhman last year.
“Marty doesn’t get that excited. He’s been pretty calm up until now. He does a good job. I’ve been pretty happy with his races, even on the tougher courses. In fact, a little bit of hill doesn’t bother him at all.”
Vermilion senior Nate Cremean punched his second straight state ticket, placing eighth in 16:21. Junior Nate Rodriguez also qualified for the Sailors, taking ninth in 16:30.
It’s the first time Vermilion qualified more than one runner in the same season to the state meet since 2001 when Zac Twine and and Kim Schultz advanced.
“This is a big relief,” Cremean said. “That’s the whole focus of the season, getting back to state.”
Cremean finished 42nd at last year’s state meet.
“I was so close last year (22nd place, 19 seconds out of qualifying),” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t want to experience that disappointment again. I just went all out.”
Turning one for Joe
Seniors Hannah Farver (12th, 19:21) and Stephanie Black (18th, 19:42) led the Bay girls to a second-place finish at the Tiffin Division II regional.
“The adrenaline was running,” Farver said. “We knew we had a chance last year, but we missed it by three points. This year we had a greater chance because we’re stronger, better and healthier. There was a lot pressure, but once the gun sounded we just let it all go.”
Six of the seven Bay girls chalked up personal-best times.
“There were just so many reasons we had to go to state,” Black said. “There were no other options. It’s so exciting. I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting second. This is so surreal.”
Senior Molly Gorie (31st, 20:20), sophomore Lisa Griebel (33rd, 20:23) and freshman Megan Mohney (36th, 20:25) finished only five seconds apart to round out Bay’s top five.
“We had a lot of nerves going into today,” Gorie said. “We had a bunch of things we did this for, but qualifying for Mr. Knap was No. 1. We love him.”
Mr. Knap is veteran Bay girls coach, Joe Knap.
“One of the keys for us was having Black and Farver running together, and more significantly, having Mohney, Griebel and Gorie finish within seconds of each other,” Knap said. “Molly did a great job pulling the other two through, and Lisa and Megan were outstanding staying with her.”
The most impressive and telling stat? Before the regional meet, Black’s personal record was 20:05. Saturday, the team averaged 20:02.
The Avon girls also had a solid performance at Tiffin, taking seventh in the 16-team field with 232 points.
Sophomore Erin Schneider (30th, 20:14) and freshman Kayla Welch (64th, 20:49) led the Eagles. Mallory Balmert (74th, 21:02), Emily Michelich (76th, 21:04) and Liz Bruno (79th, 21:11) rounded out the top five.
Foot derails Hause
A sore foot sidelined Amherst junior Pete Hause at Tiffin. The No. 4 runner for Amherst developed the problem prior to districts. The foot became so irritated that doctors warned Hause he might break a metatarsal if he continued.
Junior Nick Bonominio replaced Hause in the No. 4 spot and ended up 88th in a personal-best time of 17:43. He helped the Comets finish eighth out of 16 in a field loaded with state-ranked teams.
“Nick had never run a step before July and had never really been in any sport,” said Amherst boys coach Scott Snyder. “Nick started the year at the SWC Preview with a 21:23 and just kept getting better. He went 18:42 in the open race at districts. Nick was third from last at the mile at regionals but just kept grinding away picking people off.”
By the way, Snyder ran 17:18 at the Amherst Skeleton Run 5k for seventh place overall Oct. 28, but didn’t win the 50-54 age group. Former high school teammate Sonny Wilburn was just a bit better at 17:10 for fifth overall. The two 52-year-olds were teammates at Amherst 35 years ago.
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or PHHeyse at aol.com.
NEXT UP: STATE MEET
WHERE: Scioto Downs, Columbus
No local teams or individuals
START: 2:50 p.m.
LOCAL TEAM: Bay — Mike Brajdic, fr.; Jeremy Farver, so.; Jordan Hawkins, jr.; Kyle Nickel, jr.; Matt Notarberardino, jr.; Marty Sammon, sr.; Brian Zeuch, so.
INDIVIDUALS: Marty Coolidge, so. (Elyria Catholic); Nate Cremean, sr. (Vermilion); Nate Rodriguez, jr. (Vermilion)
START: 2:05 p.m.
No local teams or individuals
START: 1:20 p.m.
LOCAL TEAM: Amherst — Jessica Bartholomew, jr.; Alyssa Bove, jr.; Megan Byrne, sr.; Abbie Hornyak, so.; Jane Lehman, jr.; Erica Kelly, so.; Michele Molnar, sr.; Kasey Schuler, fr.
INDIVIDUALS: Madeline Chambers, so. (Magnificat/Westlake resident); Kelly Gallagher, jr. (St. Joseph Academy/Westlake resident); Alex Helfrich, sr. (Magnificat/Grafton resident).
START: 12:35 p.m.
LOCAL TEAM: Bay — Stephanie Black, sr.; Hannah Farver, sr.; Jessica Gale, jr.; Lisa Griebel, so.; Molly Gorie, sr.; Megan Mohney, fr.; Megan O'Brien, jr.
START: 11:50 a.m.
No local teams or individuals
START: 11:05 a.m.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
NATE RODRIGUEZ, VERMILION
LAST WEEK: Qualified for the Division II state meet with a ninth-place finish at the Tiffin regional in a time of 16:30. It was a personal record by 20 seconds.
OTHER SPORT: Track
BIO: Is a two-time regional qualifier in cross country. The Sailor co-captain is a member of National Honor Society, the National Spanish Honor Society, as well as speech and debate club. He volunteers and helps out with both Sunday school and custodial work at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Vermilion. Has a 3.6-grade-point average.
PARENTS: Hondo and Theresa
MOLLY GORIE, BAY
LAST WEEK: Finished 31st at the Tiffin Division II regional meet in 20:20, helping the Rockets finish second and qualify to state as a team for the first time since 1995.
OTHER SPORT: Track
BIO: Became a significant contributor for the first time this season after being bothered by injuries the past two years. Is a member of the high school newspaper staff and P.A.L., which helps out with mentally disabled individuals. Plans to major in early childhood education in college. Has a 3.5 GPA.
PARENTS: Bill and Maureen