Champion’s Sparks, Mackey take top two in Division II

offed at wet conditions at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.

The Champion senior distance runner wouldn’t let Mother Nature triumph on a day meant for Golden Flashes.

“It was a little sloppy out there, but we put that behind us,” Mackey said. “We used that to our advantage. Everybody else was thinking about the weather. We were thinking about the race.”

Mackey and teammate Allen Sparks took the top two spots in Saturday’s Division II boys district cross country meet. Sparks wore bright orange calf warmers, which gave the Champion sophomore more than warmth on a cold, rainy day.

“I think they helped, kept me nice and comfy,” Sparks said. “I think it was mainly the hard work and determination that helped us win. I was more determined in this race than any other.”

Sparks ran a personal best mark of 16 minutes, 42.11 seconds to take first and Mackey’s 16:55.63 placed second.

“He was just burning today,” Mackey said of Sparks.

Drew Dunlap took eighth (17:23.12), about 40 second off his personal best.

However, Crestwood snuck in there and dampened the Golden Flashes party by taking the team district title, 46-49. Lakeview was third, led by Chris Edie’s fourth-place finish, and Jefferson was fourth.

Girard’s Derek Basinger was sixth, Garfield’s Nick Downing was ninth and Struthers’ Matthew Bollinger was 11th.

The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to next weekend’s regional in Boardman.

On the girls side, Grand Valley sophomore Jessica Finley won (19:08.93).

“Very confident and very proud,” Finley said. “I ran 3 seconds faster this week than I did last week. Last year I ran like 1:20 slower here than I did this year.”

Girard’s Domenique Hall was second, but the throng of Crestwood runners crossed the line in places three through eight and No. 12.

Crestwood won with 25 points, while Lakeview, Girard and Garfield rounded out the top four spots.

Niles’ Gabrielle Chaffin placed 14th.