Howland girls keep running

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Sophomore Maria Dellimuti finished sixth in the Division II district meet last week.

BAZETTA — Robin Kapalko believes in her team. She sees the Howland distance runners at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, going over dirt paths, grassy surfaces and even around horse barns.

The second-year Howland girls cross country coach won’t let her team do less than their best. It’s not in her nature as she scours the grounds looking at her team’s progress.

“I’m kind of crazy,” Kapalko said. “I’m all over the course running around. I told them I’d wear my bright red shirt in case they couldn’t hear me. They explained to me, ‘Don’t you worry. We hear you.’

“I encourage and remind them they have another gear. It’s still there. You can still push not to quit.”

The Tigers didn’t quit last weekend in the Division II district as they finished a point behind third-place Salem and advanced to Saturday’s Boardman Regional meet, starting at 11:50 a.m.

It’s the second straight year Howland has made the regional meet since going to Division II, led by sophomore Maria Dellimuti once again. She finished sixth this season at the district.

Dellimuti and her teammates approached that race like it was their last. They find motivation from their coach.

“She makes us want to keep running,” Dellimuti said.

Kapalko, who was the school’s junior high school coach prior to taking the varsity position, said her team overcame injuries this season and finally achieved times they’ve desperately wanted this year.

She said she’s honest with her runners, telling them when they do great and when they don’t. Kapalko provides answers, not lip service.

It shows when Howland runs.

“I think they all work really well together, holding each other accountable in workouts and in races,” Kapalko said. “That was their little theme today before they went in. If you can’t do it for yourself today, you have to do it for your team.”

It’s a mentality the Tigers take into Saturday’s regional.