LAGRANGE — Remember the name Shannon Wargo.
The Keystone freshman made her first Patriot Athletic Conference cross country meet one to remember by pulling away from the field and crossing the finish line in 20:09.20.
Her time was 31 seconds better than her previous best, and almost 47 seconds better than second-place finisher Michaela Bierly of Lutheran West, who completed the 5K run in a time of 20:56.06. It was also more than two minutes better than the time Wargo recorded on the same Lorain County Metroparks Equestrian Center course in August in the Keystone Icebreaker.
“In the second mile, I was like ‘OK Shannon, you’ve gotta push yourself, you’ve got to do this,’” Wargo said. “Before I knew, there was like this huge gap between me and the rest of the field. I’m really excited (for districts) and I want to keep practicing hard because if I don’t, I won’t keep making personal bests.”
Wargo’s effort wasn’t enough to stop the Buckeye girls from claiming their eighth straight PAC title, edging the Wildcats by the slimmest of margins, 58-59.
The Bucks were led by sophomore Isabelle Petek, who finished fourth with a time of 21:18.05.
But it was actually eighth-place Jordan Walker (22:20.34) who beat out a Keystone competitor and assured the team victory.
“We performed very well as a team today,” Petek said. “It’s really important to have a team effort and to support each other on the course.”
The Lutheran West girls finished third with 62 points, led by Bierly and third-place Olivia Vasiloff (21:17.76)
There would be no suspense in the boys race as seniors Ryan Gallagher and J.J. Grzincic paced the field to lead Buckeye to its third consecutive PAC title, and sixth in the league’s eight years of existence.
Gallagher (16:03.27) and Grzincic (16:22.14) were both more than 30 seconds in front of the nearest competitor.
Buckeye was well ahead of second-place Fairview 56-67.
“We did what we had to do,” Grzincic said. “Coach (Jon Brenenstuhl) had a plan for us and we followed through. Today was mostly for the team, it wasn’t about individuals. It was really almost as important to us as districts because it’s our conference championship and we’ve had a lot of success here over the years.”
Gallagher, a three-time state qualifier, won the individual title for the third straight year.
“Going down the last hill, I just maintained my speed and I knew J.J. was close behind me until about 1,200 meters to go when I just went after it” Gallagher said. “This is our conference and we race here no matter what. It’s nice to have a plaque and to have bragging rights until next year. Sadly, I won’t be here next year but the rest of the team will be able to carry on the tradition.”
Firelands senior Brady Jeffers (16:53.96) finished third. Jeffers teamed up with close friend and Black River senior Gus Kazek (17:01.24) to try to run down the Bucks’ dynamic duo.
“Me and Gus planned on running together today and we did for about the first mile and a half,” said Jeffers, whose time was a personal best. “We tried to stick with the two Buckeye kids, but maybe we surged too early.”
Seniors Mike and Matt Hollingsworth led Clearview to a third-place finish with times of 17:15.99 and 17:40.04.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM STANDINGS: Buckeye 56, Fairview 67, Clearview 84, Firelands 94, Black River 105, Brookside 125, Lutheran West 131, Oberlin 210.
INDIVIDUALS: Ryan Gallagher, Buckeye, 16:03.27; J.J. Grzincic, Buckeye, 16:22.14; Brady Jeffers, Firelands, 16:53.96; Gus Kazek, Black River, 17:01.24; Mike Hollingsworth, Clearview, 17:15.99; Bobby Auber, Buckeye, 17:22.39; Kevin Kerchenski, Fairview, 17:35.39; Creighton Jensen, Brookside, 17:39.80; Matt Hollingsworth, Clearview, 17:40.04; Brennan Crawford, Firelands, 17:44.93; John Miles, Fairview, 17:49.54; Brian Giguere, Lutheran West, 17:50.70; Michael Wilkinson, Fairview, 17:55.30; Noah Parsons, Clearview, 18:09.11; Triston Hornbeck, Black River, 18:09.41.
TEAM STANDINGS: Buckeye 58, Keystone 59, Lutheran West 62, Firelands 83, Brookside 105, Fairview 115.
INDIVIDUALS: Shannon Wargo, Keystone, 20:09.20; Michaela Bierly, Lutheran West, 20:56.06; Olivia Vasiloff, Lutheran West, 21:17.76; Isabelle Petek, Buckeye, 21:18.05; Leslie Peterson, Firelands, 21:20.17; Emma McQuate, Fairview, 22:01.27; Jillian Peters, Keystone, 22:10.96; Jordan Walker, Buckeye, 22:20.14; Tina Ficociello, Keystone, 22:32.00; Tori Hritsko, Firelands, 22:36.02; Emma Franz, Buckeye, 22:44.20; Katy Ackerman, Brookside, 22:48.29; Emilee Gil, Brookside, 22:59.23; Sarah Lyman, Fairview, 23:01.45; Nicole Swanson, Lutheran West, 23:07.12.