Johnson, Hoffman capture Maplewood Invite titles

MECCA – Bobby Johnson wanted to try out his new pink running shoes on Thursday’s Maplewood High School cross country course, which was revamped with new twists and turns and a jaunt through Mecca Park. His socks were fluorescent green, pulled up to his knees.

“I got the shoes, expecting them to be more orange or red,” said Johnson, who won Maplewood’s Oscar Grant Invitational in a time of 16 minutes, 12.4 seconds. “I didn’t know they would be that pink looking. I didn’t expect that, but I’ve had the socks. I couldn’t find my white ones, so I figured I’ll have to go with the green ones. They match well. I just kind of went with it.”

Girard’s Dominique Hall was leading with a trio of McDonald girls in the first mile – Heidi Hoffman, Rachel Perry and Bobbi Oakes. Then, in the final mile, it was down to Hall and Hoffman heading into the final quarter mile around the Maplewood all-weather track.

Hoffman surged ahead in that last stretch and won in a time of 20:30.7.

“The coaches from McDonald encourage me so much through the race and tell me never to give up,” she said.

Hall, who said she took 2 minutes off her time, took second (20:44.8). She said she felt great about her race, but wasn’t able to push ahead of Hoffman.

“Let’s just say I’m very competitive at the beginning, but I don’t know how to push it in yet,” Hall said. “But, I think I’ll get up there.”

Ravenna’s Olivia Chinn (20:47.6) and Perry (20:59.9) and Oakes (21:10.7) rounded out the top five, while McDonald held off Girard for the team title, 19-69.

“McDonald is a pretty competitive team. They’re really good,” Hall said.

“We’ve all improved pretty well and I’m really proud of my team,” Hoffman said.

The Maplewood boys held off McDonald for the team title, 31-33. Lakeview took third with 79 points.

The Rockets pack of Tristan Dahmen (16:56.5), Derek Morrison (17:02.9) and Solomon Yoder (17:07.2) finished second through fourth, respectively. McDonald’s Allan Coviello was fifth (17:18.5).

“I felt really good coming into the second mile,” Dahmen said. “My teammate, Derek Morrison, really helped me out through that area. We really worked together.”