Boardman teams capture district titles

BAZETTA – Mark Hadley has been batting 1.000 this season.

It’s not that the Boardman senior distance runner is a phenomenal slugger, but he has found a way to hit a home run each and every race this season.

Saturday was no different as he led from wire-to-wire at the Division I boys district cross country meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds in a time of 15 minutes, 23.35 seconds.

“What’s pushing him is he wants to be a state champion,” Boardman coach John Phillips said. “That’s been his goal from Day 1. That’s how he trained all year. He doesn’t want to lose.”

Hadley led Boardman to a district title over Twinsburg, 52-71.

“It feels a lot better to extend that lead early and cruise in than it does to sprint to the finish,” Hadley said. “I want to do what’s the easiest on my body.”

But it wasn’t the only reason for the Spartans to celebrate Saturday.

The Boardman girls beat out Chardon for the team title, 75-90. The Spartans weren’t deterred by the cold, rainy conditions at the fairgrounds. Jordan Grantonic led Boardman with a fourth-place finish.

“I’m so proud of them,” Boardman girls coach Stacey Hunter said. “Cross country runners know they have to run in everything. They knew the course might be rainy, it might be slick. It actually held up really good. They ran really smart races and I’m so proud of them.”

Howland’s Taylor Craigo ran 19:29.09 and finished ninth – her personal best time. Austintown Fitch’s Carissa Jenkins was 11th.

Twinsburg and Aurora were the other two team qualifiers.

The top four teams and top 16 runners advanced to next weekend’s regional in Boardman.

Phillips is proud of both Boardman teams. This is the boys second straight district title after almost a two-decade long hiatus, while it was the girls’ first title.

“This has been a great day for Boardman High School,” he said. “It’s probably the best day our program has ever had.”

It was a banner day for Howland’s Ryan Sullivan, who ran a best time of 15:46.70. It helped Howland place fourth.

“We didn’t want him to burn it out early, just stay in control and run within himself,” Howland coach Dan Libert said. “There was a lot of competition around him, so he did run better.”

Chardon was third with Nick Elswick, who with Hadley, are arguably the two best runners in the state and nation. Elswick, who committed to Ohio State, is recovering from an injury and finished seventh – about a minute off his normal time.

“He’s getting back into shape,” Phillips said. “We know that’s not how he’s going to run next week or the following week.”

“It’s great to have such a great runner so close,” said Hadley, who is running at Furman next season. “Running against Nick Elswick is amazing. He’s been great motivation for me to get better.”