Grand Valley’s Steimle wins regional title

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Grace Steimle of Grand Valley finished first in the Division III girls cross country regional Saturday at Boardman High School.

BOARDMAN — Kurtis Fisher knew one thing heading into Saturday’s Division III girls regional race: Junior runner Grace Steimle was highly competitive in her races.

She’s always been in the mix for a win, but the thing she lacked was finishing.

On Saturday, the Grand Valley runner won the D-III regional individual title in 19:20.92 at Boardman High School.

“Her experience showed today,” GV coach Fisher said. “There’s a couple of races where she made a move at the wrong time, kind of sat a little bit too much or tried to go a little too early. It came back to bite her. We talked about being patient and really controlling our own race today.

“This is the sixth time on the course for her. We knew where we had to make the moves. We talked about it all week. There’s no need for me to be yelling out, it’s time now. She just went on them.”

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Ashleigh Rowley of Western Reserve finished second in the Division III girls cross country regional Saturday at Boardman High School.

Steimle passed Western Reserve senior Ashleigh Rowley, who finished second (19:28.30), in a wooded area on the course with about 600 meters remaining.

“Coach gave me some good advice,” Steimle said. “That really helped me to stay calm today. I was able to beat an upperclassmen in a regional race.”

Grace and John Steimle, a freshman who finished in 19th place in the Division II boys race, both advance to the state meet next Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. John was the highest area Division II boys finisher.

Garfield’s Tyler Klouda finished in second place in the D-III boys race, behind champion Tyler Polman from Independence, 16:17.48 to 16:37.75.

“I felt strong today running second behind Tyler Polman, who’s an awesome competitor,” Klouda said. “Throughout the race I started to gain more confidence that I could finish second place behind him.”

Meanwhile, Howland freshman Maria Dellimuti finished 25th in the Division II girls race, the highest finish among area runners and one place from qualifying for state.

The top four teams and 16 individuals in Division III and the top six teams and 24 individuals in Division II advance to state. The top eight teams and 32 individuals go on from regional to state in Division I.

As for Rowley, she’s looking ahead to Hebron.

“It wasn’t there today,” she said. “Hopefully, I come back and be strong next week for state. I’m not upset about second. My goal was first.”

Badger’s Miranda Stanhope took fifth in the Division III girls race.

Stanhope, the Trumbull County and Suburban League champion, became the first Badger female to qualify for state since Sarah Bonar did so in 2008.

Stanhope suffered an injury to her hip, which started around The Legends race in mid-October. Badger coach Carrie Albert said it was thought to be anything from a hip flexor to an IT band issue, but nothing definite.

“She’s been dealing with the tightness in the hip and the pain from that,” Albert said. “She said she was feeling better this week. I think she did quite well.

“I think it’s great she made it this far. She’s going to state. We have next week to see what happens there.”

Stanhope will be joined by senior Ty Reeher, who took eighth in the Division III boys race.

“I was disappointed I got out-kicked by two guys in the end,” he said. “They were putting in as much effort as I wanted to put in. We all have the same goal, that’s to go to state.”

It was the same for Mineral Ridge’s Palmer Cameron, who finished ninth. He’s the first Rams distance runner to make Hebron since Logan Smith took runner-up honors in 2014.

“I was just trying to make top 16,” Cameron said. “To be in top 10 the whole way through, I was ecstatic coming through the line.

“I gave it all. Now I’m hoping I can keep it enough for the state meet.”

One person in particular who had going to state on his mind was Mathews senior Kenny Wallace. Last year, he collapsed about 50 meters before the finish line before crawling across the line a couple of places short of qualifying for the state meet.

Saturday, he finished 15th and is heading to Hebron.

It’s a bit surreal since it was the McDonald boys who visited Wallace as he was being pumped full of IV fluids to recover. Wallace trained with the Blue Devils the past couple of years.

This year, it was Wallace consoling the McDonald boys after their streak of state meet appearances which spanned back to 1999 was broken. McDonald placed sixth.

“One guy passed me in the stretch and I was thinking this could be it all over again,” Wallace said. “I’ve been working toward this for a whole year. This hasn’t left my head at all.

“It sucks the McDonald guys didn’t make it.”

But a trio of area Division I boys runners did make it in Boardman’s Chris Butler (ninth), Canfield’s Giovanni Copploe (17th) and Howland’s Vinny Mauri (21st).

“I just wanted to stay with the pack as long as I could and keep on trucking through, even though if I fell back, like I did,” Mauri said.

“I had it my mind,” Butler said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it. Now that I’ve done it, it’s just awesome.”