Amherst’s Hill sec­ond in crazy fin­ish

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Fuad Shal­hout fshal­hout@morn­ingjour­nal.com @shal­houtf on Twit­ter

Amherst ju­nior Josh Hill had a fin­ish he will re­mem­ber for a while at the 32nd an­nual Spar­tan In­vi­ta­tional at Board­man High School on Sept. 16.

Luck­ily for him, though, it wasn’t the Di­vi­sion I re­gional race, which will also take place at Board­man next month.

That’s be­cause as Hill was ap­proach­ing the fin­ish line, he quickly glanced over his shoul­der and didn’t see any­one. So from there, he eased up as he was about to cross, when sud­denly Chardon’s Nate Kawalec burst hip-to­hip with him for a thrilling fin­ish.

It was im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine with a naked eye who won, and of­fi­cials needed to re­view a

photo fin­ish be­fore declar­ing Kawalec the win­ner (15:59.0), just slith­er­ing past Hill (15:59.3). Hill ran at a 5:09 pace. “I didn’t see him com­ing,” Hill said. “I re­gret it. I took the lead with about 150 me­ters to go. I hon­estly didn’t ex­pect to win it, but I wanted to put my­self out there to give my­self a chance to win. But it’s still re­gional com­pe­ti­tion and it gives me a lot of con­fi­dence be­cause we don’t have a lot of fast cour­ses. It’s a good gauge for next month.”

The Comets fin­ished 21st over­all (616) out of 44 teams, with an av­er­age time of 17:53.3, and head coach Rob Glatz was pleased with Hill’s per­for­mance.

“It’s pretty rare for a 3.1 mile race to come down to three thou­sandth of a sec­ond,” Glatz said. “We’ve taken the last two weeks off so we can im­prove our train­ing. We were hun­gry for this race.

“We love com­ing here be­cause we want to get all the ex­pe­ri­ence we can on this course. Our con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship sea­son won’t start for an­other three weeks now, so this is a good spring­board head­ing into that. But we still have a lot of work to do.”

When Hill re­turns next month for re­gional com­pe­ti­tion, bet­ter bet he will have this race etched in his mind.

“I’m never do­ing that again,” he added.

North Ridgeville’s Mi­lan Sieber fin­ished a strong 19th (16:45.7) and ran a 5:24 pace.

In the Di­vi­sion II boys race, No. 14 state-ranked Fairview placed sixth (330), while No. 2-ranked NDCL won the ti­tle (143). Se­nior Con­nor Kil­bane put forth an­other strong per­for­mance. tak­ing sev­enth ( 16:48.8). Woodridge’s Noah Per­rin won with a 16:23.6, and Black River’s Rus­sell Schultz (16:32.2) was sec­ond.

Kil­bane ran a 17:53 at the re­gional meet last year and knows he’s a bet­ter run­ner now.

“I learned how hard this

course is and when to start push­ing ear­lier,” he said. “But this was a good test for us. Our sec­ond run­ner wasn’t here and we still ended up sixth. We lost to Poland, Jef­fer­son, NDCL, Woodridge and St. Vin­cent St. Mary, who are all in our re­gion. But I think if our sec­ond run­ner is here we fin­ish ahead of Poland and Jef­fer­son Area.”

Open Door se­nior Grant Duffy placed 19th (17:28.8) in the Di­vi­sion-III race, while Columbia sopho­more Matt Pet­te­grew fin­ished 20th (17:34.4).

Girls

Lutheran West was 12th (378) in the D-III race and was led by Kristin Groppe’s fifth place (19:49.9), who ran a 6:24 pace. Open Door’s Mag­gie Eck was 73rd over­all (22:54.6).

In the Di­vi­sion-I girls race, West­lake fin­ished as the high­est lo­cal team, tak­ing 15th (424), while Avon Lake placed 19th (449) and Amherst 21st (537).

Demons ju­nior Erica Francesconi was 12th, clock­ing in at 19:35.1 for a PR.

“That was my third race ever com­pet­ing,” the first-year run­ner said. “My coach told me at this meet it’s all about place­ment be­cause we come here for re­gion­als and we want to come here as a team for re­gion­als. But for this meet, we wanted to fo­cus on the first mile.”

Francesconi ran a 5:54 for the first mile.

“I never knew they posted the time af­ter the mile and I was kind of pet­ri­fied,” she added. “That was the fastest I’ve ever done for a mile.”

Bay placed 11th (381) in the D-II race, and Brook­side took 27th (645) while Fairview was 29th (716).

The Rock­ets were led by fresh­man Olivia Bird tak­ing 34th with a 20:55.3. Bird was re­cently the Morn­ing Jour­nal Player of the Week and has been Bay’s No. 1 run­ner all year.

“I felt good and I just love run­ning,” Bird said. “My coach told me to just do my best. When I come back next month, I’m go­ing to drink way more water be­cause I felt de­hy­drated. I just hope to go as far as I can this year.”

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