By BRANDON JUDEH
For the Star Beacon
Muddy, sloppy and slippery, those were just some of the words local runners used to describe the field conditions at the regional cross country meet at Boardman High School on Saturday afternoon.
The rainy cold afternoon was not enough to stop Grand Valley’s Jessica Finley from qualifying for state as she finished 14th with a time of 20:04.
At the beginning of the season, Finley never imagined that her freshman year of cross country would end at the state meet.
“I had no idea at the start of the season that this would happen,” Finley said. “Sometimes I struggle with my confidence, but I was very confident this race.”
Finley overcame a lot this season, as earlier in the year she had to run with a cast on her arm, which made things awkward.
“It was uncomfortable to run and threw my form off so I had to work to get back into a rhythm,” added Finley.
In the Division I girl’s race Lakeside’s Karen Barrientos missed out on a trip to the state meet.
“I need to work hard this offseason and work on staying positive and fighting off all of the negative thoughts,” said Barrientos.
She also added that the course was a little worse than she had anticipated, as a steady rain fell throughout the morning and afternoon.
The Madison girl’s team also had a disappointing outing, but head coach Kelly Chandler says that she is happy with the constant improvement that her team has continued to show.
“I’m pleased overall, because we came in ranked at the bottom, last year we finished 16th and this year we moved up to 15th so it’s a step in the right direction,” Chandler said.
Senior Katarina Funk was the top runner for Madison, finishing with a time of 21:09.
Geneva’s Hailey VanHoy also had a strong showing by finishing in the top 50 while Riverside freshman Katie Durisin gained plenty of experience for her future by finishing in the top 75.
Riverside boys coach Phil Baioni said he is pleased with his team and all of the accomplishments they have earned this season.
“I thought we ran great, we have been focusing on getting to the regionals all year as a team, and we managed to accomplish that,” Baioni said. “Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with their performance, they collectively came together as a team the whole year and I’m very proud of them.”
Despite his team being left out of the state competition, Jacob Burr finished in the top spot for Riverside with a time of 17:23.
Lakeside’s Brady Bunnell got out to a hot start as the rain continued to fall, but the second half of the race didn’t go as planned.
“I hit my first mile time, but after that I really fell apart out there,” a disappointed Bunnell said.
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