FROM STAFF REPORTS
Boardman -- On a brisk and windy day, a couple of Greenmen girls runners came close to qualifying for the Division I state meet at the Oct. 26 regional event, but couldn't quite edge into the top echelon.
As a team, the Greenmen placed 13th out of 16. Nordonia won the regional team title, with Canton GlenOak, Walsh Jesuit and Mentor also qualifying for the state meet at National Trails Raceway in Hebron.
Deja Davis led the way for Aurora, finishing 21st overall in 19:45.78, while Samantha Grohe was 32nd in 20:07.96. Davis would have had to finish in the top 16 to qualify.
Other local results were: Dana Cassidy, 67th in 20:52.41; Deanna Calder, 110th in 21:57.97; Michela Palma, 113th in 22:04.54; Marissa Henderson, 117th in 22:20.66; and Emily Keller, 130th in 24:37.77.
"It wasn't the most ideal conditions to race with all of the wind," said coach Laura Bell. "The course was in pretty good shape considering the weather earlier in the week. Typically, Boardman can be a muddy mess."
Bell said the team knew the regional meet would be difficult, and they would have had to have had the best race of their lives to qualify for the state meet as a team or as an individual.
"Northeast Ohio tends to have the top athletes at the state meet," said Bell. "Thirty-six girls were under the 20-minute mark going into the regional. The girls had to have a great start and get out fast.
"Unfortunately, that is not what happened on Saturday. Early in the race, Henderson got knocked down and was run over, and even Keller could not avoid her and fell on top of her."
Bell said Keller was then stepped on and lost a shoe and had to run the remainder of the race without it.
"I am so proud of those girls," Bell said. "They could have given up, but they got up and continued to push on and finish, a true showing of their character and dedication to their teammates."
Bell noted Davis and Grohe did get out in good position, but the competition was just too tough.
"They both raced the way they needed to for the chance of qualifying. All of our girls gave it their best and we cannot ask for more. They have accomplished so much this season.
"They are a group of young ladies who won their first Chagrin Valley Conference title since 1999 and the first Aurora team to qualify to the Division I regional. They've set new standards for the girls cross country team, and we're already talking about the 2014 season.
"I am very proud of all 70 of our runners this year, and am honored to have had the chance to coach such amazing young men and women. I, too, am looking forward to the 2014 season."