ELMA - For the fifth straight year, the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies captured the girls' high school cross country Sectional title.
Also, for the third straight season, Fredonia's Lauren Reyda took the top spot as she finished the 3.1-mile course in just 19:51.6.
"How can you not say what an awesome job she has done," Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle said of Reyda. "She works so hard and deserves everything she gets. She does everything we ask her to do. She is a tremendous athlete, is mentally tough and we are very proud of what she has done. There is a lot of pressure on her. Everyone expects her to run well each and every race. We know she can do it. Still remember, she is a 10th grader.
The Fredonia Lady Hillbillies captured their fifth straight Sectional Cross Country title Friday. Pictured from left are Lauren Reyda, Michaela Tramuta, Clare Foley, Gwen Stokes, Meredith?Zebracki, Cori Gullo and Jill?Kowalski.
"It is about the program and how well our modified team does and getting numbers out," Zirkle said of the fifth straight team title. "A big part of that is how the modified coaches are able to keep the numbers up. If you don't have a large number in modified, we have nothing to pull on. If you have 20 on the team, hopefully five become very good runners. In cross country, we treat it as family atmosphere. The boys and girls train together. Alumni come back to cheer us on. We had five alumni cheer us on (Friday). They push for everyone to do our best in honor of the kids before and the ones after you."
The Lady Hillbillies had six runners finish in the top 21 as Michaela Tramuta took fifth at 20:39.8 ahead of teammate Clare Foley in sixth at 20:40.5.
"Anything we tell Clare to do, she does," Zirkle said. "We know how strong Alden, Akron and JFK were. Alden and Akron had four runners very good and sitting between Michaela and our third runner. That's not a good situation for us. We needed someone to run with Michaela. The goal for Clare was at least beat Akron's fourth girl, but hope to beat their third girl. Not only did she beat their third girl, she beat the first. We had three girls finish before their first girl."
Also for Fredonia, Meredith Zebracki took 15th at 21:21 and Jill Kowalski placed 19th at 21:37.3. Cori Gullo took 21st place at 21:55.8.
"They ran phenomenal," Zirkle noted. "They have been working all year - since last season. This is what they wanted to do. They all pulled it together today and ran great races. Zebracki had her best race of the season. They are truly a team."
Also qualifying for the state meet in Class D were Silver Creek's Hannah Seiders and Emma Seiders.
Hannah finished in eighth place with a time of 21:07.5 while her younger sister, Emma, was right behind in ninth place at 21:08.2.
This marks Hannah's third straight season making it to the state finals.
"It's a large accomplishment for a girl so young," Silver Creek coach Mike Janisch said of his freshmen runner. "She has ran outstanding for three straight weeks now.
"It will be a memorable situation for both of the girls," Janisch continued of having sisters running at the state meet together. "For a girl who is inexperienced as Emma, to run the way she did, is super. The whole team ran well."
In Class B, Dunkirk's Calan Pogorzelski placed 38th with a time of 22:24.5.
"We are happy with her time," Dunkirk coach Kurt Warmbrodt said.
In the boys' race, Fredonia took seventh place and was led by Jake Brown's 20th-place finish with a time of 18:45.1. Teammate Josh Goodhue was right behind Brown at 18:46.
"Jake Brown is our only senior and had a great season," Zirkle said. "He did a great job with leadership and showing a very young team what Fredonia cross country is all about. He is an excellent role model for those kids. We will miss him next year."
Brown was the only member of the boys' team who has run in a Sectional race.
"It was a great learning experience for this team," Zirkle said. "Usually we have a team where we have more than one runner. Usually you would have half your team race at sectionals before. They can't visualize a course and a hill. It was a great learning experience for these kids. Hopefully next year six kids will have raced and realize why we are running a hill in practice. It's all for training at the end of the season. It was hard for them to see why we do things the way we do it."
For Dunkirk, the Marauders ran the fifth race of the day, and by that point, the course had become muddy, according to Warmbrodt.
"The boys did well," he said. "They ran strong. They all lowered their times from last year. That's always a positive note. Especially due to the fact it was very muddy."
First-year sophomore runner Javier Soto placed 42nd with a time of 18:21.
"He ran an outstanding time," Warmbrodt said. "He led the team every race this year. He is very excited about running again. They all ran well, that's the key. My top six guys ran well."
The state meet will be held next Saturday at Elma Meadows, starting at 9:30.
"We are very happy it's at Elma Meadows," Zirkle said. "It's a course we know. We get to sleep in our own beds the night before. That's a huge benefit. We are excited to see what we can do next Saturday."