The top 14 Comets girls cross country runners headed this weekend to the Running Fit Coaching Legends Invitational in Brighton, Mich., where they divided into two groups to run in the Gold Division varsity and open races.
Amherst freshman Leah Johnson and junior Cara Giannuzzi led the varsity team in Michigan.
“Michigan was very competitive,” said head coach Terry Kemp. “The meet was everything we could hope for — November weather, an honest and accurate course, better than a state meet caliber competition, and our kids running their best.”
The team was rounded out by Ally Potyrala, Ashley Hill, Kalyn Potyrala, Alana Moore, Rachel Szczodrowski, Mariah Watson, and Bridgette Wadge.
Senior Ally Potyrala performed particularly well, improving her best time for the season by 21 seconds.
The junior varsity team in Michigan was led by junior Kailey Reed, who improved her all-time personal best by 44 seconds. She was voted runner of the week by the team that traveled to the meet.
“After the race I felt like I accomplished something I thought I could never do and knowing I still have room to improve made me so excited,” said Reed. “I was cut so close to not being able to even go to the meet and I wanted to show why I was there and that I deserved to be there.”
Runners ranked 15th and on for the Comets competed at the Vermilion Invitational. There, runners ranked 15th through 21st ran as a varsity team and placed fifth.
“Having your JV’s finish fifth against 15 varsity teams in an invitational is pretty good,” said Kemp. “And they ran times that would have made them varsity just four years ago. It’s incredibly encouraging.”
The varsity team at Vermilion included Kayla Snowden, Heather Wigton, Ashley Cogdell, Meredith Funderburg, Sydnie Card, Alicia Del Valle, and Rachel Lasso.
Wigton, a senior, improved the most of the varsity runners, running her personal best by 12 seconds.
Sophomore Molly Parker, who competed in the JV race at Vermilion, was voted runner of the week at Vermilion for beating her personal record by 1:24.
“I was just thinking about getting from one point to another and keeping my eyes up, like Mr. Kemp always tells us to,” said Parker. “There were moments where I wanted to give up, but I just remembered all the advice I’d been given on how to achieve my goals.”
The girls run next this Saturday at the Dan Olien Invitational in New London.
Photo by Judy Giannuzzi Leah Johnson, Cara Giannuzzi and Ally Potyrala pack run behind several runners from nationally-ranked Seaholm.