Aurora -- The Greenmen cross country teams got off to a decent start in the 2013 season Aug. 24 as the girls managed a sixth-place finish out of 22 teams and the boys placed 12th out of 22 teams at the Berkshire Earlybird meet in Burton.
Coach Laura Bell praised the 12th-place overall effort of Andrew Swan (17:20.93).
"We are really excited to see what he does," she said. "I love telling this story because it is not just about talent, but having heart and guts. It shows you that with hard work, determination and dedication, anything is possible."
Bell explained Swan came out for the team as a freshman so he could get a new pair of running shoes. "He got the bug and trained a little too hard for his track season, and ended up injured. But he came back strong as a sophomore last year, only to get injured again three weeks into the season and did not return fully to his full potential.
"He trained smart for the 2013 track season and was the Chagrin Valley Conference champion in the 2-mile. He worked hard over the summer, and set a personal best by 32 seconds in the Earlybird. We'll take one day at a time to work toward the end of the season."
Other boys picking up points were: Daniel Sovich, 90th in 19:32.38; David Meredith, 133rd in 20:20.08; Stephen Riley, 140th in 20:25.22; Jack Petroski, 141st in 20:29.93; Noah Wordell, 153rd in 20:41.74; and Ian Houston, 155th in 20:44.77.
Sovich's effort was a personal best, and Bell said freshman Meredith "made a statement" in his first high school meet. Riley, Petroski and Wordell also ran personal bests, and freshmen Houston and Jenkins are proving they can run at the varsity level.
Not earning points were: Zachary Jenkins, 165th; Reid Stephen, 195th; Kyle Baldwin, 202nd; Scott Carlson, 249th; James Matras, 252nd; Ryan Carey, 254th; and Dane Fellenstein, 263rd.
FOR THE GIRLS, Deja Davis topped Aurora with an 11th-place overall in 20:59.78. She was followed by Dana Cassidy, 14th in 21:03.57; Marrissa Henderson, 27th in 21:38.59; Abbey Stechler, 33rd in 21:48.88; Deanna Calder, 47th in 22:27.38; Emily Keller, 96th in 23:27.52; and Sammie Miller, 103rd in 23:35.42.
Not earning points were: Hannah Swan, 113th; Logan Huffman, 129th; Allison Jenkins, 143rd; Brittany Schambach, 148th; Jacqueline Caputo, 159th; Kaylin Anderson, 215th; Sydney Pinney, 224th; Haley Gromack, 230th; Sammie DiGeranimo, 240th; Rachelle Love, 247th; Josephine Stummer, 249th; Megan Phillips, 255th; Maddison Flagg, 294th; Abigail Jensen, 295th; and Kelsey Kadow, 301st.
Bell said there were a lot of successes to celebrate for the girls. "It's going to be a very competitive season for them," she noted. "Many girls set new bests."
Davis was new to cross country last year, but trained smart over the summer and set a personal best by 2 minutes and 40 seconds, while Cassidy was 16 seconds better than her previous best. She is coming off an injury last year.
Bell said Henderson and Stechler have much potential as freshmen and are forcing the upper classmen to work twice as hard. "They will be key players at the varsity level," she noted.
Calder, Keller and Miller also set personal bests, while Swan and Huffman should be able to run at the varsity level at the Walsh Jesuit Tomahawk meet.
"Many of our runners could not compete at Berkshire because of a lack of practices, but we're looking forward to seeing what they can do at the Walsh Jesuit Tomahawk Run on Sept. 7," said Bell.
"We are especially excited to see new athletes Samantha Grohe and Michela Palma race at Walsh as they gun for varsity spots."
Bell said this season is going to be exciting for the girls, and coaches are hopeful many girls will run in the low 20s or 21s by the end of the season, with some having the potential to go below 20.
"The key to the success of this team will be if the girls work together as a team and not as individuals," Bell said. "If they are willing to work and celebrate each other's successes, that will drive the overall success of the team. I think big things are going to happen this year."