The Lady Comets cross country team opened its regular season with a second place finish at the Southwestern Conference Preview.
Amherst was led by freshman Leah Johnson and junior Cara Giannuzzi, who took sixth and eighth places respectively.
“I was happy about the race,” said Johnson. “I felt really good the whole time and strong up the hills. The weather was perfect for racing and I’m proud of the team.”
The varsity roster was rounded out by senior Ally Potyrala, junior Mariah Watson, freshman Kalyn Potyrala, junior Ashley Hill, and junior Rachel Szczodrowski.
Several of the runners from the preview competed in a preseason race at the OHSAA Early Season Invitational. Others ran in the Keystone Icebreaker.
The average improvement from the OHSAA invitational was 13 seconds per runner and 19 seconds per runner from the Keystone invitational.
Racing before the conference preview was a new experience for the Comets, but the early performances were encouraging. “I’m glad to see how great the team did so early in the season and I can’t wait to see how much we will improve,” said Giannuzzi.
Coach Terry Kemp agreed that the success the team has shown so far is a positive sign in comparison to last year, when Amherst won the conference championship.
“We are ahead of last year by a ton. We would have put seven girls in front of our top four at last year’s preview, and the JV would have eight in front of our first JV,” said Kemp. “We saw some nice improvements on Saturday. Our goal has always been to get better each week. We have a ways to go, but this was a nice step forward on that journey.”
Notable junior varsity performances from the Comets came from junior Ally Kelling, sophomore Arisa Inouye, and senior Elizabeth Northeim, who all improved their times by more than a minute from the Keystone Icebreaker.
The girls race next at the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Johnson, (6th, 20:51); Giannuzzi, (8th, 21:03); A. Potyrala, (11th, 21:18); Watson, (24th, 21:52); K. Potyrala, (25th, 21:53); Hill, (35th, 22:10); Szczodrowski, (36th, 22:11).
Moore, (42nd, 22:25); Wigton, (45th, 22:36); Monteleone, (49th, 22:38); Wadge, (52nd, 22:46); Snowden, (54th, 22:50); Card, (56th, 22:55); Reed, (58th, 22:59).
Leonard, (64th, 23:04); Walker, (65th, 23:04); Funderburg, (67th, 23:05); A. Cogdell, (72nd, 23:13); Del Valle, (81st, 23:45); C. Hill, (84th, 23:53); Lasso, (92nd, 24:11); Wiegand, (103rd, 24:36); Hiteshew, (105th, 24:40); Kovach, (109th, 24:47); Gendics, (119th, 25:07); Veneman, (127th, 25:24); Syrowski, (132nd, 25:33); Gomez, (134th, 25:36); McDonald, (140th, 25:57); Mo. Parker, (163rd, 26:58); Brosky, (170th, 27:14); Wales, (179th, 27:33); Borthwick, (184th, 28:00); Inouye, (189th, 28:12); Phillips, (190th, 28:27); C. Cogdell, (193rd, 28:34); Northeim, (222nd, 30:54); Garcia, (229th, 31:26); Kelling, (235th, 31:49).
Courtesy photo Freshman Leah Johnson took sixth place in her second race in high school, which was also her second varsity race.