Howland boys ready for regional cross country

BAZETTA — Vinny Mauri stood in the makeshift bullpen area of the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, just as he finished up his Division I Trumbull County District cross country race Saturday.

He was speckled with mud, but not complaining about the cold and drizzle mucking up the once green 3.1-mile track around the Fairgrounds.

“Makes it cooler and more fun. It almost (makes the race) not as serious,” he said.

The fun may just be starting for the Howland sophomore and his teammates as the Tigers are heading to the Boardman Regional Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

The top eight teams and top 32 runners advance to the state meet, which makes this year’s regional field much larger than in years past. There are 25 teams vying for those eight spots, but six of the top 10 ranked teams are in this race.

“They are taking more teams out of our regional, but they brought in some more teams into our regional, which weren’t there before, such as St. Ignatius, Medina,” Howland coach Dan Libert said. “They’re going to be there, which makes it that much tougher to get out.

“If they’re going to get out, the one-to-five gap has to be small. You’re going to need them all in the 16s, maybe somebody in the 15s, if the conditions are right at Boardman. If not, you’re not. Competition is going to be that strong.”

Mauri knows his team has to be very strong and fast on Saturday.

“Our top four and five have to get a little faster,” he said. “The top three is pretty good, maybe 10 seconds faster. Then, I think we’ll have a good shot of making it.”

Forecast is for rain on Saturday, which may mean mud on the course since it is the third race of six that day.

Libert said Saturday might be more of the finish than the experience.

“If you run well, you have fun,” he said of running in the mud.