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Rocket record

Maplewood freshman sets mark

Staff photos / Brian Yauger Caleigh Richards of Maplewood was the individual girls winner Tuesday in the Trumbull County cross country meet held at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds. Richards led the Rockets to the team title and set a county record.

BAZETTA — With how chaotic 2020 has been, and how the season could end at any moment, Maplewood girls cross country coach Michelle Rupe has been training her girls like there’s no tomorrow.

That training paid off Tuesday as the Rockets claimed victory in the Trumbull County Cross Country Championships held at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.

“I probably have been training them harder than I normally do,” she said. “It’s a long time until November and we’ve been training since June. I started thinking, with this season, if we get one or two weeks this season we might be fortunate. … I’ve been telling the girls to ‘Take this moment, because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.’ “

The Rockets took the top spot individually with freshman Caleigh Richards, as well as two more in the top 10 with Marissa Ventura (5th) and Emily Butler (6th).

Richards finished with a time of 18:49.0, nearly a whole minute before the second-place finisher, Megan Hipple of Howland, and set a Trumbull County girls record.

“I thought I did pretty well,” Richards said. “I tried to go after that county record and tried to push myself. It’s pretty cool to think I’m able to win races, but Megan Hipple, she’s really good competition. She’s awesome.”

Hipple led the second-place Howland team with a time of 19:40.4. The Tigers finished with four runners in the top 10. Molly Yasnowski (4th), Gabby Reuschling (8th) and Gabby Scott (9th) rounded out the top 10 finishers for Howland.

Howland’s boys claimed the top team spot Tuesday in the program’s first county win.

“I expressed to them that we’ve never won the county and this was our golden opportunity,” Howland coach Dan Libert said. “I thought they stepped up and did a great job. I thought it was the best race we’ve had all season.”

The Tigers had two runners in the top 10 and had three more in the top 15. Lane Goble (13:34.5) finished in second place and Emanuel Fakkas (17:04.0) took the number five spot.

With the postseason approaching, Libert has been reminding his team of what they’re capable of and has tried to keep his team focused on the one-to-five split.

“I keep telling them ‘You guys have more in you than you’re showing, you’ve just got to believe in it. Just do what you can do and good things would happen,'” Libert said. “It’s a big thing in cross country and we were working on it today, the one-to-five split. How far your fifth man is behind your number one man.

“McDonald has been a team that has done that great over the years. I think that’s a lot of their success, they’ve been able to pack run, like Mentor. We lost to them last weekend and Mentor’s one-to-five split was only like 11 seconds.”

The Blue Devils were the number two team, and had the top finisher in Brody Rupe who ran a 16:17.3. Rupe was impressed at his finishing time, saying he took the beginning stages of the race relatively easy.

“It was actually a really fun race to be in today because we went out relatively easy and then I just went away from the pack and got ahead of everybody,” he said. “I thought it was fun to be way ahead later in the race and I was surprised at the time I ran because I didn’t think it’d be that quick, especially because we went out easy with the front of the pack at the beginning.”

District races are just weeks away and the McDonald senior is eagerly preparing to get his team as far as they can go.

“We certainly have some improving to do to make it to the state level,” Rupe said. “We’re excited for districts and hopefully regionals and state as well. Our guys are getting into shape and recovering from injuries. Hopefully we pull everything together.

The district races are scheduled to be run the week of Oct. 19.

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