Area cross country teams prepare for new districts

Area Division I and III cross country teams have been thrown out of whack this season.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association redistricted Division I, moving teams like Warren G. Harding, Howland, Boardman, Canfield and Austintown Fitch from Malone University to the Trumbull County Fairgrounds on Oct. 19.

For Boardman, the area’s best distance program this season, it changes the comfort zone of the Spartans.

“It was more of familiarity,” Boardman boys cross country coach John Phillips said. “We would got to the Malone Invitational. We went to a pre-season race at Malone. We were very familiar with Malone. We were very comfortable there.

However, he hopes his team performing in the OHSAA Preseason Meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron – site of the state meet – pays off in mid October, just in time for districts.

“I really wanted to say we’re going to start our season here. We’re going to end our season here. Now that we’re getting switched to districts at a flat course, that is hopefully going to pay off in October for us as well.”

For each district at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, the top four teams and 16 individuals advance.

That’s a sign of relief for teams in Division III not named Maplewood or McDonald. In some seasons, the top two teams and eight individuals advanced to regionals. Now, it’ll give Trumbull County a little more representation at the Boardman regional on the boys side.

However, the girls Division II side just got a little tougher as Hawken is competing in the Division III district.

As for the boys Division I district, it’s going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than the regional meet.

You have Twinsburg, Solon and Chardon and last year’s regional champion Nick Elswick, who is heading to Ohio State next season.

“It’s going to be a pretty tough Division I meet there,” Howland coach Dan Libert said. “That’s kind of different meet for us. The Federal League was down for once and they pulled us out of there.

“You’re going to have Solon, Twinsburg, Kenston, which are pretty good team. Then you’ll have Canfield, Fitch, us and Boardman. There’s seven good teams there. We’re only going to take four out.”

It’s a change of pace from getting top five teams and top 20, which happened at the Malone District.

“I actually think if we were at Malone we’d get out with the all the Mahoning Valley teams, along with GlenOak,” Austintown Fitch coach Paul Farr said. “At this new district, it’s crazy. It’s going to be a blood bath to reach the regional meet. It’s going to be tough.”

Just as some area teams are moving from Malone to the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, the Mahoning County Division III teams are headed to Malone – teams such as South Range.

Coach Diane Krumpak is making the adjustments and knows her team will have hill work at McDonald, East Palestine and their own South Range course this year to prepare for Malone.

“We will try to get over there sometime during season sometime as a practice day to see that course,” she said.

The district changes will impact this year’s area regional and state qualifiers, but the greatest impact will be felt in those boys coming out of Division I, which could well be one of the toughest districts in the state.