YSU runners keep eye on qualifiers from alma maters

YOUNGSTOWN — Alan Burns remembers 2013 as if it were yesterday. The Boardman cross country team took fourth at the state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway, the highest placing for Boardman in school history. His teammate and current Furman University runner Mark Hadley won the individual title that year.

As Boardman senior Chris Butler is heading to his first state meet at Hebron, Burns, a Youngstown State University junior distance runner, has taken notice.

Butler, along with the other state qualifiers, race Saturday. The Division I boys race is at 12:30 p.m. Butler, the Spartans’ No. 1 runner, finished ninth in last Saturday’s Division I regional.

Burns is hoping his alma mater is eventually getting back to the kind of success he experienced with the Spartans. Boardman didn’t qualify anyone for regional in 2014, after the Spartans graduated their top five runners. Only Ethan Schwendeman advanced to the regional in 2015.

“It’s huge for Boardman,” Burns said. “Two weeks ago I actually went into the high school and talked to him. I tried to give him a few tips on what we used to do. It’s huge for Boardman as a program.”

That same year Boardman had its success, Burns’ YSU teammate, Ryan Sullivan, finished in 11th place at state in Division I. Sullivan, a YSU junior, saw his alma mater Howland advance someone to state this season.

Sophomore Vinny Mauri finished in 21st place at last Saturday’s regional.

“I was a little bit surprised a sophomore came out of Howland,” Sullivan said. “It’s a good opportunity for Vinny. It was a year before I ended up going. That first year is so vital, then you have another two years to go there.”

Then there’s the two-time defending state champion in Division III — the Maplewood boys.

YSU assistant coach Eric Rupe is one of a handful of former Rocket runner to run for the Penguins, which recently won the Horizon League championship.

Rupe was part of the final squad which continued the state’s longest streak of making it to the state meet (1990-2009).

Mike Dahmen, Tristan Dahmen (Mike’s cousin) and Derek Morrison also ran for Maplewood and are currently at YSU. Tristan and Morrison won state titles for the Rockets. Morrison, a sophomore, was on the 2014 team. Tristan, a freshman, won individual state titles the past two years to lead the Rockets.

“It’s going to be a big day since they’ve won two in a row,” Rupe said.