Sullivan edges Johnson for Suburban title

CANFIELD – Ryan Sullivan has been living in Bobby Johnson’s shadow since the two have been racing.

Tuesday, the Howland High School senior saw nothing but daylight during the boys cross country field at the Canfield Fairgrounds.

Sullivan ran 16 minutes, 27.12 seconds to beat out Johnson, a McDonald senior, for Tuesday’s title.

“Me and Bobby have been racing ever since I began cross country,” Sullivan said. “He’s always been a great competitor. He’s always been a little bit ahead of me every year. Finally this year I caught up to him. This race, I tried to get out to the front of the pack around the mile marker. So, he came up and got with me and ran the race the whole way. I kept pushing him and him really pushing me the last mile and a half. Toward the end, I think he died off a little bit.”

Sullivan has won plenty of races for Howland this season, while Johnson has done the same for the Blue Devils.

Johnson, who ran 16:38.19, won Saturday’s Division III boys Spartan Invitational title in less than 16 minutes.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at first in this race,” Johnson said. “I decided I’m going to go up and get the win. It was tough. I didn’t feel my best today for sure. He had me at the end. It’s no sweat. It’s fun running against these (Division I) schools. We wanted to come in here as little McDonald and compete with them today.”

Champion’s Allen Sparks, and Canfield’s Alec Kennedy and Chase Kern rounded out the top five.

Kennedy and Kern helped host Canfield edge out Howland for the team title, 47-52.

However, Canfield, which only ran on the course Tuesday because of a weekend swap meet at the fairgrounds, didn’t have that so-called edge.

“It’s a lot of satisfaction,” Canfield coach Doug Weitzman said. “Mixed emotions. We don’t get to run here often. We’re honored to share the course with the league – one of the few places that can.

“We knew it was going to be close between us and Howland.”

McDonald, Lakeview and Champion rounded out the top five teams.

Canfield usually trains at places like Boardman High School.

“There’s so many events out here,” Weitzman said of the fairgrounds. “It’s tough to do any kind of training out here and do it the way you really want to do it.”

As for the girls race, United’s Allison Parks led from start to finish in most races this season. Tuesday was no different as she ran 20:06.95 for the win. Boardman’s Jordan Grantonic took second (20:15.87).

Austintown Fitch’s Carissa Jenkins, South Range’s Mollie Pierson and Matti Dunham rounded out the top five.

“I had a lot of great competition today,” Parks said. “It was fantastic with Boardman. They did very, very good. I’ve been wanting something like that, wanting some competition. They gave it to me and that was awesome.”

Grantonic, who has won her share of races, paced the Spartan girls to the team title over Howland, 49-81. McDonald, South Range and Canfield were next.

As for Sullivan and Johnson, they will go head-to-head again next Tuesday at Maplewood High School in the Trumbull County Championships.

“I’m still hungry,” Sullivan said. “I can’t wait for the next Tuesday meet we have, which is Trumbull County and I’ll get to race against Bobby again.”

“It would be fun to win county,” Johnson said. “That’s one of my goals. It will be fun to go up against him and, hopefully help my team get a team title. We’ll see what happens there.”