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Bulldog sports roundup: Cross country teams advance in tournaments (football, too)

The Stow-Munroe Falls football team may have been staring at a 21-0 halftime deficit Oct. 21 at Suburban League National Conference rival Hudson in its regular-season finale, but the Bulldogs had their chances to get back in the game. In the end, they lost 42-13, finishing the regular portion of their schedule 1-9 overall and 0-6 in the National Conference.  

SMF kicked off to open the second half, but senior Cooper Davids stripped the ball away from the Explorers’ returner, and the ball was scooped up by junior James Lewis, who ran 60 yards for a touchdown to pull the visitors within 21-7.

The Explorers answered with a 34-yard touchdown pass, but SMF refused to die as freshman quarterback Jake Harrington threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Joey Lehner to make the score 28-13.

This was where the Bulldogs had two golden opportunities to score late in the third quarter but failed. On the ensuing drive, SMF recovered a Hudson fumble right outside the red zone. The Bulldogs moved the ball down to the 11-yard line but were not able to convert on a fourth-and-1 play. Then, still down by 15 points, SMF drove inside Hudson’s 15-yard line. A sack of Harrington pushed the Bulldogs back, and eventually junior kicker Davis Broghammer just missed on a 48-yard field goal try that hit the crossbar.   

“That third quarter could’ve been a huge momentum shift for us,” head coach Martin Poder said. “In the fourth quarter, Hudson wore us down a little bit. Like it’s been all season long in the fourth quarter, we weren’t able to execute and make some plays.”

Harrington wound up 14-of-33 for 190 yards, and he ran the ball three times for 12 yards. Senior running back Teddy Gregory, Jr., had 11 rushes for 54 yards. Junior wide receiver Jack Smith had six receptions for 49 yards, senior wide receiver Brayden Gabele had a single catch for 28 yards, and sophomore wideout Nick Hosey caught two passes for 24 yards.

Defensively, senior outside linebacker C.J. Seckinger led the way with eight tackles. Senior safety Sal Romito had four tackles, and nose guard Alex Heeg, his classmate, recorded three tackles.

Because Division I, Region 1, has only 17 teams, the Bulldogs snuck into the postseason as the 16th-seeded team. They will oppose top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Lakewood St. Edward in a first-round playoff game at Lakewood High School at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28.

Boys golf: Skirpac places 11th at Division I state tournament

There were only four players out of 72 total who had a better score than senior Ben Skirpac on the second day of the Division I boys state golf tournament Oct. 22 on Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course.

Skirpac fired a 3-over-par 74 on day two. Combined with his 81 the day before, he finished with a score of 155, which tied him for 11th place overall, seven strokes behind champion Nick Piesen of Cleveland St. Ignatius and only one stroke from being honored as Second Team All-Ohio.

“The 81 was a complete grind,” head coach Chet Feldman said. “It was some of the toughest conditions I have ever seen on a golf course. The greens were really hard, the undulations on every green were just so difficult. The fairways were hard, and there were 20- to 25-mile-an-hour winds. The winds were actually affecting Ben’s putting. It really messes with your psyche. For a golfer, that’s a nightmare. It’s hard in those conditions, and he played really well, he struck the ball well. 

“The second day, Ben started off great. He was striking the ball well, feeling good. He went through a little lull there. It was almost like he was driving the ball too well. He was going through the fairways and getting in some tree trouble. There were three holes he was directly butted up against the tree where he couldn’t attack the green. He just had to chip out.”

Skirpac ended strong with birdies on 16 and 17 and a par on 18.

“It was just phenomenal,” said Feldman. “The second shot he hit on 16, I’ve never seen anything like it. His drive was almost to the tree. He had a limb to deal with and a bunker in front of him, and he hit this shot where it was low enough to be under the branch, high enough to be over the bunker and had spin to keep it within two feet of the hole. Unbelievable. His birdie on 17, he hits a great shot up there. It’s about a 200-yard par 3. He chipped it right in the hole.”

Feldman said it was a pleasure coaching Skirpac for four years.

“For Ben to start all four years, go to state as part of the team his sophomore year and then to end his career by going to state individually, it was a great experience for me, for him and [us] together,” he said. “I’m glad I got to caddy for him and walk side by side with him this year. I was right there with him every shot. He’s got a lot of golf ahead of him. He plans on playing in college.”

The coach said next year’s team will be very young.

“We only have one junior coming back, Matt Kurtz, and he was basically my 5-6 golfer this season,” he said. “We have Eddie Norman, Jr., and Tyler Cheatham, two freshmen, coming back. We have sophomore Austin Wilhoit coming back. He’ll be our No. 1 guy, our go-to guy. We have two or three decent eighth-graders who I’m learning about.”

Girls cross country: Bulldogs finish runner-up at district; regional meet next

Warmer-than-normal temperatures did not keep the girls cross country team from qualifying for the Division I regional meet at Boardman High School.

Stow-Munroe Falls finished second out of 29 teams with 117 points Oct. 22 at the district meet at GlenOak High School in Canton. The top eight teams qualified for the regional meet, which will be held at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.

Jackson won the competition with 94 points. GlenOak finished third with 129 points.

“It was a very good team effort, hard fought,” head coach Aaron Morris said. “The weather was a lot warmer than it had been the last few weeks, and times across the entire district were all slower than they’ve been the last couple weeks. We were not immune to that either.”

Leading the way for SMF were juniors Jayla Atkinson and Deena Ingrassia. Atkinson finished fourth with a time of 19 minutes, 57 seconds, and Ingrassia finished right behind in fifth with a time of 20 minutes.

“It wasn’t Jayla’s best race. She was struggling with some hydration issues I think midway through, but she was able to gut it out and still finish fourth,” said Morris. “Deena was one of the standout runners of the day. Last week at the [Suburban League National] conference race she was beaten by the first Hudson girl, so she was kind of nervous coming into this one, but she ran right away from her and never looked back. That Hudson girl finished 10th.”

Senior Sydney Pitcovich finished 28th with a time of 21:14, junior Ellie Brosch placed 39th with a clocking of 21:36, and senior Lily Baker was 44th with a time of 21:47.

“This was Sydney’s second race back from injury,” Morris said. “She looked very good, strong. She would’ve qualified for regionals on her own as well. They take the top 36 individuals, and she was in that range.

“Ellie had a little bit of a rougher race. She might’ve gone out a little bit quick, but she was sitting in that 36th spot for most of the race, so she would’ve just missed making it individually.

“Lily was the other standout runner of the day for us. She was in 62nd place when she came through the first mile but ended up coming all the way back to 44th, and we needed that in order to get second place.”

As for the regional meet, the top eight teams and top 32 individuals qualify for the state meet.

“We’ve been kind of sitting in that sixth, seventh, eighth spot all season long in our region,” said the coach. “We’re still probably right around that seventh and eighth spot. If we don’t make it as a team, Jayla should qualify, Deena should have a good shot, especially after how she ran at districts, and Sydney should be on the back end of having a shot of making it.”

Boys cross country: SMF survives district meet to advance to regionals

The boys cross country team’s goal Oct. 22 at the Division I district meet at GlenOak High School in Canton?

Qualify for the regional meet at Boardman High School, which will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.

Mission accomplished.

Stow-Munroe Falls finished sixth out of 29 teams with 206 points. The top eight teams qualified for regionals. Jackson won the competition with 92 points, Perry finished second with 97 points, and GlenOak was third with 111 points.

“The bottom line of this part of the season is survive and advance, and we accomplished the main objective of the day, which was to qualify out,” head coach J.K. LeSeure said. “The heat was definitely a factor, so the times were a little slower across the board.”

Pacing Stow-Munroe Falls were seniors Micah Bentley, Zach Shawala and Connor Scarberry. Bentley finished 18th out of 173 runners with a time of 16:31.97, Shawala was 25th with a time of 16:49.00, and Scarberry finished 30th with a clocking of 17:06.67.

“Micah ran a solid race. He did what he needed to do. He’s got a better race in him, though,” said LeSeure. “Zach put it all out there. He had nothing left at the end. He had a solid race. Connor is trending. He’s running a little bit better every week, so hopefully next week is the one that he really breaks it. He would’ve qualified out as an individual if he’d had to (the top 36 advanced to regionals), so any time you’re in that window, you’ve had a good day.”

Sophomore Nathan Hartenburg was 65th with a time of 17:58.96, while senior Trent Macura was right behind with a time of 17:59.99, good for 68th place.

“Nathan had another big day,” LeSeure said. “Last week, he was the key to us winning the conference championship. Had Nathan not made the big jump a month ago and did what he did at districts, we might be having a different conversation as far as what we accomplished as a team. He’s really come on well for us and is making a huge difference in how we perform as a team.

“Trent did what we needed him to do. He ran solidly, he raced hard through the entire race and picked up some key points for us toward the end. He has a better race in him, though.”

As for the regional meet, the top seven teams and top 28 individuals qualify for the state meet.

“The first four teams I think are real solid. They’re pretty much set,” said the coach. “I think there are probably five or six teams that can be those five, six, seven spots. It’s just going to come down to who runs the best. We’re capable of it. If we don’t make it as a team, Micah should make it, and Zach and Connor will both be close.”

Girls soccer: Bulldogs end postseason with win over Willoughby South, loss to Twinsburg

The girls soccer team enjoyed a breather in its 7-1 home win over 27th-seeded Willoughby South Oct. 20 in a Division I sectional final.

Stow-Munroe Falls, seeded sixth, improved to 8-5-4 on the season.

“It was 7-1 at halftime,” head coach Jim Dudones said. “We have more experience than Willoughby South has, and we have better athletes than they do. We should’ve gone out there and taken it to them, and that’s what we did. The girls played hard. We accomplished what we wanted to in the first half, and then we got to rest some players with nagging injuries in the second half. I was happy we could do that.”

Scoring two goals apiece were senior midfielder Kailey Hobart, senior forward Sophia Yoder and junior midfielder Mallory Fischer. Junior forward Paityn Marino scored SMF’s other goal.

“Kailey did exactly what Kailey always does, which is she led on the front. She just went out there and took it to them,” said Dudones. “Mallory was outstanding, and not just because she scored two goals, although that certainly was nice, but because she treated it like it was just another game. She just went out there to mash and was not tentative, was extremely aggressive and physical. She did a very, very good job of asserting herself. She’s an excellent athlete.”

The Bulldogs played at top-seeded Twinsburg in a district semifinal Monday, Oct. 24. With a win, they would host the winner of eighth-seeded Lake and ninth-seeded GlenOak in a district final at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.  

Girls volleyball: SMF defeats Kent Roosevelt before falling to Twinsburg in sectionals

Everything was clicking for the girls volleyball team Oct. 19 in a 25-11, 25-15, 25-16 victory over 23rd-seeded Kent Roosevelt in a Division I sectional semifinal at Walsh Jesuit.

“That was probably our best serving night of the season. We had 20 aces,” head coach Sara Snyder said of her 20th-seeded Bulldogs. “We were passing well, we were hitting well, we were blocking well. Everything just kind of fell into place.”

Sophomore setter Ella Meers had a season-high 31 assists and two blocks, while senior right-side hitter Kelly Dietrich recorded a season-high nine kills.

Three days later, on Oct. 22, SMF’s season came to an end with a 25-21, 25-16, 25-18 defeat at fifth-seeded Twinsburg in a sectional final. The Bulldogs finished with a 7-17 record.

“That match was way more competitive than what the score actually shows,” said Snyder. “The first set, we led most of the way. We served well and had six aces. Defensively, we played very well from blocking to digging to passing, just in general. We did OK hitting. If we would’ve found maybe one or two more kills, I think the set would’ve gone differently. The next two sets, our serve just wasn’t as strong. We started serving soft. Defensively, we hung with Twinsburg. There were a lot of hustle points. They hit better than us, and we had more errors than them. Offensively, we just didn’t put the ball away.”

Snyder will lose three seniors to graduation but has some talented underclassmen returning who could fill their shoes quite well next season.

“We have the libero role to fill as well as a middle hitter position and right-side hitter position,” she said. “We have a strong sophomore class and some key juniors who will be returning.”

Boys soccer

Calls and text messages left by The Spotlight for head coach Kyle Kosmala were not returned.

Field hockey

Calls and text messages left by The Spotlight for head coach McDaniel Palma were not returned.