The Lady Comets cross country runners had an outstanding start to their 2015 season, finishing in the top 10 at the OHSAA’s State Preview Meet.
Run on the same course as the state championships in November, the Preview sees some of the very best teams statewide compete in an early season evaluation of effort and talent.
Defending state champion Centerville scored 59 points to narrowly defeat Hilliard Davidson and 2013 Ohio title winner Mason for the overall victory in Saturday’s meet.
The temperature and humidity were well on their way up by race time, but a solid summer of training more than prepared the Amherst girls for both the course and the weather.
“This was a great start to our season,” coach Terry Kemp said. “This is two weeks earlier than we have ever had a meet and to have the kids perform this well was very encouraging. Finishing in the top 10 was one of our signs we were racing up to our ability and that’s exactly what the girls did.”
The Comets, whose 42-girl roster represents their largest team ever, were able to race 10 varsity girls rather than the customary seven in Saturday’s meet due to the early season format the state allows.
Leading the efforts of those 10 girls in Columbus was freshman Leah Johnson, who ran 20:59 to finish 41st overall.
“Leah really attacked the first mile Saturday,” Kemp said. “She showed real courage and confidence against some of the best girls in Ohio. As she gains experience, she will just get better and better.”
Johnson was followed closely by junior Cara Giannuzzi (52nd, 21:30) and seniors Megan Parker (55th, 21:32) and Ally Potyrala (57th, 21:36).
“I thought Cara, Megan, and Ally ran great races,” Kemp said. “To have your second, third, and fourth girls only six seconds apart is fantastic and is a great sign for our team. Ally just missed her lifetime best in her first race of the year, which says a lot about how hard she has worked this summer.”
Junior Bridgitte Wadge (77th, 22:16) and senior Alana Moore (78th, 22:18) were next for the Comets, both running career bests for the 5K in their first race of the season.
Veteran varsity runner Ashley Hill was 83rd for Amherst (22:25), with junior Mariah Watson (84th, 22:28) just behind.
Amherst also had solid finishes from senior Heather Wigton (94th, 22:41) and junior Meredith Funderburg (126th, 23:46), with both girls gaining valuable varsity experience.
Both the varsity and junior varsity runners will compete at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29 in the annual Southwestern Conference Preview Meet held at Lorain County Community College.
Courtesy photo Amherst’s Cara Giannuzzi, Megan Parker and Ally Potyrala hit the finish line six seconds apart.