By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Edgewood has set the bar high for area teams over the years. The Warriors showed they’re still the gold standard in Ashtabula County cross country Tuesday in edging Lakeside and Pymatuning Valley in the Ashtabula County Meet.
Twins Chris and Josh Lemay took off in front from the start, pulled away from most of the competition quickly, then battled each other the rest of the way while letting their teammates bunch together behind them to take control of the team scoring with 49 points.
Chris Lemay won the individual race and Josh Lemay was second.
“I’ve been really working out more lately,” Chris Lemay said. “I’ve been working harder lately and Josh hasn’t been doing that as much. I just want to get him back to where he should be in state rankings. Right now I’m at 11, but he’s at 17. Only the top 16 make it to state, and I really want him to be there competing with me.”
Josh Lemay lamented the loss to his brother.
“I guess you could say our battles are basically a sibling rivalry,” he laughed. “When I run, I basically try to stay at the same pace as my brother as a goal for running. I think we only have one or two more meets before sectionals, districts, regionals and states, so I just want to stay healthy now.
“I’m battling a little knot in my back right now, but a hot shower and some time in a hot tub should take care of that.”
Lakeside was second with 63 points, The Lakers were third with 65 while Jefferson followed with 109, Geneva tallied 115, and Grand Valley had 150.
The Lemays establishes an edge right away for Edgewood.
“There were no real surprises today,” Edgewood coach Steve Hill said. “The boys needed a good performance and that’s what they gave us. It’s our second group of runners farther back who set the tone for our team, though.
“They all did a great job today of staying close. There are some other pretty good runners and teams here, so consistency is important.”
Lakeside’s second-place finish was paced by Will Tackett, who ended up in third place, about 40 yards behind Josh Lemay.
“I have to go after the twins and try to stay within striking distance of them,” Tackett said. “I liked this course today, but I’m used to running at Lake Shore Park as our home course. This was good for running for the most part.”
Pymatuning Valley three runners in the top 10 to place third.
Chet Mienkiewicz was fourth the Lakers, his brother, Cory was seventh, and Rory Gallatin took eighth. Add in a 15th-place effort for Aaron Cross, and PV applied some good pressure to both the Warriors and Dragons.
Beside the third-place finish for Taggart, Caleb Henery took ninth and Josh Pott was 11th for Lakeside.
“It’s nice to have our program respected,” Lakeside coach Eric van’t Veer said.
Jefferson was paced by Steven Houser who was fifth.
“We’re young and inexperienced,” Jefferson coach T.J. Furman said. “Steve does a great job for us in leadership with his consistency while running. I think he even has more in him as the season winds down.”
Brandon Scribben took 10th for the Falcons.
Geneva was led by the sixth-place finish of Darren Haydu. Brandon Bryan ended up 13th to help the Eagles’ cause.
“I’m feeling fairly good about our team,” Geneva coach Matt Deering said. “Officially, our team isn’t even part of the program, but we had some folks step up to help us financially so we can compete, and while numbers are not the best, with 13 total and nine running today, the kids are really working hard to make our program a success.”
Grand Valley didn’t have anybody in the top 10 in the race, but with two sophomores and five freshmen comprising his team, GV coach Kurtis Fisher sees a better future for the Mustangs.
“We’ve got a good junior high program going now and with them coming in and this bunch of kids working hard now to get stronger and faster, I think our future is much brighter,” coach Curtis Fisher said.
Tim Steimle led the Mustangs, placing 14th.
Conneaut supplied only two runners for the event, as did the Grand River Academy Eagles. With no early finishers, both teams have a long way to go, but things are looking up for the Spartans.
“I know we only have 2 boys this year, but we have quite a few more in junior high, which should be a boost for us in a couple years. Their hard work now will show up in a couple years.”
Jacob Edwards was 18th for the Spartans.
The fortunes in the PV program are looking much brighter, according to coach Landon Hamilton.
“Our fifth guy lost a shoe today that set him back or we might have made it to second,” he said. “The kids work hard in practice and do everything I ask of them. Our two seniors do a good job of keeping the younger kids focused on the task at hand and they are just a great group to work with.”
“The ditches were tough today,” Chet Mienkiewicz said. “Otherwise this was a good course. We had a really hard week of practice, so maybe my legs weren’t as fresh as I would like, kind of heavy, but we did our best and did a good job.”
The Warriors showed they still are at the top of the running circle in the county, but the gap is slowly closing.
“I’m grateful for the successes we’ve had over the years,” coach Steve Hill said. “I think our success has helped other teams to focus more on what they need to do to get better. The kids at other schools stay in touch with our runners more now and they are all getting better.”