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Twinsburg cross country teams look for return trip to states

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published: August 17, 2016 12:00 AM
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Last season, Twinsburg cross country head coach Sarah Kmet saw both of her teams make it regional action, but that was as far as the Tigers could go.

This fall may be a different story -- especially for a deep girls squad.

Besides a post season run, Kmet is also looking to improve in the loaded Suburban League as the Tigers enter the second season of play in the National Division.

Kmet is excited about the season, which opens Aug. 27 at the GlenOak Invitational. Kmet enters her eighth year as head coach and will be assisted by Ryan Merriman, an English teacher at Twinsburg High.

The Tiger girls return a lot of talent, led by senior Morgan Kelley, sophomore Makenzie Hartman, junior Emily O'Connor, sophomore Angela DeFabio, and senior Kayley Irwin.

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"Morgan, Makenzie, and Kayley are coming off outstanding track seasons and I expect to see big improvements in them this fall," said Kmet.

The Lady Tigers finished ninth out of 16 schools at the Boardman Division I regional. Graduate Racheal Lovett (25th) will be missed.

Hartman ran 29th in regionals and made second-team All-Suburban with Kelley and DeFabio. Kelley was 48th in regionals.

Top newcomers include freshmen Alyssa Deeds, Rebecca Mold and Desha Perera.

"Alyssa Deeds is probably one of the most talented freshman runners in the region, if not the state," stated the coach.

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Deeds looks to be the Lady Tigers No. 1 runner this fall.

"She had an outstanding track season and I expect her to be our top runner this fall," said Kmet.

"The girls are very solid this fall as we return six of our top seven and we add an outstanding runner in Alyssa Deeds," said Kmet. "The goal, like every year, is to qualify for the state meet.

"This group of girls really understands what it means to train smart and I expect that to translate into a very good team this fall."

Twinsburg could have a different approach or emphasis this fall.

"A key for us will be minimizing time gaps in our top five," Kmet said. "The regional is laid out differently this year, with 8 of 25 teams making it to state (a change from 4 of 16 getting out in the past)."

"With such a larger field, pack running will be even more important come late October."

As was the case last year, Kmet expects a dogfight for the National Conference title.

"I expect us to contend with Nordonia, Hudson, North Royalton and potentially Stow-Munroe Falls for league honors," said Kmet.

On the boys side, sophomore Ryan Adkins, senior Aaron McCarthy, junior Ethan Bernhard, junior Alex Dickson and senior Andrew Yates are back in the fold.

Last fall, Twinsburg placed eighth out of 16 teams at the Boardman regional meet.

Adkins just missed an individual state berth. He needed a top 16 finish and was 17th overall.

A first-team All-Suburban runner, Adkins was the top freshman placer at Boardman.

"Ryan missed the state meet by one place last year and enters this fall as one of the best sophomores in the state," said Kmet.

"With the spring and summer he has had, I've already seen an improvement in fitness," added the coach. "One of Ryan's greatest assets as a runner is that he is confident and fearless. I expect these traits to help him qualify for the state meet this year."

The Tigers will miss graduated Josh Gogan, who finished as a district runner up this fall and became a four-time regional qualifier. He was a first-team All-Suburban pick.

Yates was a second team all-league choice while Bernhard was honorable mention all-league. Yates ran 48th overall in regional action while Bernhard was 60th.

McCarthy also has great experience for the Tigers.

Kmet said the top newcomers is freshman Mitchell Suder.

"Mitchell has the potential to crack the top seven by year's end," noted Kmet.

"Other potential impact runners are junior Chad Abrams and seniors Blake Benedict, Jared Deeds and Nick Bianco."

"We were hit hard by graduation, but return our top runner in Ryan and experienced veterans in Aaron, Ethan, and Andrew," said Kmet.

"I believe Alex Dickson will be our X-factor," she added. "He (Dickson) has shown tremendous improvement over the last several months and I anticipate a big season out of him.

"We should get a low digit out of Ryan each week so I will be looking for consistency amongst the 2-5 runners this season. I believe the boys can qualify for the regional and once there, maybe make some noise."

Kmet believes the top two teams in the conference remain the same.

"Hudson and Wadsworth are the class of the field," Kmet said. "I believe we have a shot at top three, probably between us and Stow."

Twinsburg will compete at the Suburban League Super Duals Sept. 3 at Wadsworth.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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