Rockets, Blue Devils repeat as champs

BROOKFIELD – McDonald junior Malina Mitchell couldn’t be happier after finishing second at Tuesday’s Trumbull County cross country meet at Brookfield High School.

She saw freshmen Anna Guerra, Bella Wolford and Sela Jones right behind – all with times less than 20:35.

The four Blue Devil runners finished behind individual champion, Badger freshman Miranda Stanhope. McDonald’s impressive pack led the Blue Devils to their fifth straight title. Junior Claire Hoffman took 11th as the top five for McDonald amassed 25 points. Lakeview finished second with a distant 77 points, while Badger had 81 for third.

Freshmen dominated the meet on the girls side. Aside from Mitchell, ninth-graders were among the top six – including Howland’s Maria Dellimuti, who placed sixth.

“It’s really great we have a group of freshmen that just absorb all the knowledge the coaches and upperclassmen give them,” Mitchell said of her McDonald team. “They’re a really great group to work with.”

Maplewood’s boys repeated as well, as the Rockets captured their fourth straight championship, edging out Howland, 32-46. McDonald was third with 71.

Ethan Sparks came across the line third – behind individual champion Vincent Mauri of Howland and Ty Reeher of Badger.

As Howland’s Tyler Harigan came across the finish line fifth, the Tigers took a brief lead. Maplewood countered as Mike Shipman took sixth, Jake Hall was seventh, Nick Cowger took ninth and Adam Burgard was in 12th place.

“If you’re one of the top guys, you can place as high as you want,” Sparks said, “but your fourth and fifth make the race. Having that kind of security, it’s a great feeling.”

Maplewood, which is the two-time Division III state champion, knows it has more work to do this season.

“It gives us confidence in what we’re going to do in district, regional and, hopefully, state,” Sparks said. “It gives us that little bit of a boost.”

As for McDonald, Tuesday’s victory helps the Blue Devils going forward.

“The fact we ran so well today helps progress into the tournament season,” said Mitchell, whose team won the Division III state title in 2014 and finished third last season. “Especially with such a young group of athletes, building their confidence is more important than anything.”