Garfield’s Klouda grabs 5th place

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Garfield sophomore Tyler Klouda finished in fifth place Saturday in the Division III state cross country meet.

HEBRON — Garfield cross country coach John Bennett told his sophomore distance runner he had the confidence in him that he’d do well Saturday.

Tyler Klouda delivered with a fifth-place finish during the Division III boys state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway.

He didn’t speed down the straightaway like funny cars and dragsters do while running at the track, since the cross country races are run on the grass surrounding the dragstrip.

However, Klouda forced his body to slip under 16 minutes and establish himself as an all-Ohio runner.

The top 25 runners in each race are given all-Ohio status. The top 20 in the D-III race made the podium, in full view of the grandstand.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Howland’s Vinny Mauri, left, heads for the finish line Saturday in the Division I cross country state meet.

Klouda had a hard time believing he could run with this quick bunch of runners. He liked the first mile, running it in 4:55. Klouda’s doubt began to fade, although he didn’t during this state meet.

It finally occurred to him during the second mile that he’d stay competitive in this race eventually won by Colonel Crawford’s Chad Johnson (15:18.4).

Klouda came across the line in 15:57.6, accomplishing his goals of going under 16 minutes and making the podium.

“It was starting to hit me that I wanted it so bad to finish where I was,” Klouda said. “I was really digging deep, trying to make a lot out of my trip down here.

“When I crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with emotion. I never thought I’d be doing this as a sophomore.”

Bennett said Klouda is a a very diligent runner, who is a tactician during the race.

“It’s a phenomenal day for Garfield, as a school, as a community,” Bennett said. “He represents us so well. It’s very gratifying.”

AREA FINISHERS: Mathews’ Kenny Wallace, a senior, had surgery to repair a torn meniscus almost a month ago.

That’s why Saturday’s D-III state race was so important to him.

He finished in 36th place with at time of 16:36.4, but knew just being able to run in this prestigious race was so much more important.

“It was great,” Wallace said. “I was just happy to get down here and run without feeling absolutely awful at the end. I accomplished that today. It’s so surreal being down here.”

Wallace began the season as one of the area’s and even the state’s best Division III runners before a mid-September soccer injury sidelined him for about a month.

“I have no regrets at all,” Wallace said. “Yeah the season turned out like crap, but I’ve had fun these past few weeks to get back in shape and make it here. I wasn’t expecting this at all.”

Badger’s Ty Reeher finished in 33rd place with a 16:34.2 clocking.

He beat the time from last year of his brother, Owen (16:48), who races for Shawnee State and placed 44th last season.

“It’s not so much of a competition as making your own mark, being your own person,” Badger coach Kurt Ward said. “He really wanted to do that. That was big. His goal was to get into that all-Ohio spot.

“A little bit disappointed, but overall a very positive experience.”

Mineral Ridge’s Palmer Cameron, who finished 31st (16:31.6), was pleased with his first experience at state.

“It was just amazing to be here,” he said. “It was a lot faster than I expected, or what I’m used to. It was still a lot fun. There was a lot of people all in tight contention.”

Poland’s boys placed 20th in Division II with 461 points, while Boardman’s Chris Butler was 30th and Canfield’s Giovanni Copploe 59th in Division I.

Howland sophomore Vincent Mauri placed 70th (16:19.5) in a race that was one of the fastest he’s experienced.

“So many people pushing you,” Mauri said. “You really don’t know what your pace is because it’s so many people around you. You could be going fast. You could be going slow. You don’t know.”

This propels him into the next cross country season, giving him two more years to possibly qualify for state again.

“It helps me to know I’ll make it the next two years and to improve my time because I know the course more. It’s a great experience,” Mauri said.