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  • Bulldog sports roundup: Runners Atkinson, Ingrassia and Bentley are going to state

Bulldog sports roundup: Runners Atkinson, Ingrassia and Bentley are going to state

It was no surprise that the Stow-Munroe Falls football team lost 42-6 to Lakewood St. Edward at Lakewood High School Oct. 28 in a Division I, Region 1 first-round playoff game.

After all, the top-seeded Eagles are the No. 1-ranked team in the state, one of the top 20 teams in the entire country and are the defending state champions. The 16th-seeded Bulldogs, meanwhile, finished the season with a 1-10 record.

“We have a long way to go before we get where St. Eds is in every facet, especially where we were at the end of the season in terms of injuries and attrition and all of that,” head coach Martin Poder said. “We knew it was going to be an uphill battle for us. The game of football is won at the lines, and we struggled to run the football. During the regular season, St. Eds’ sophomores don’t even dress from talking to their coach. With freshmen, they have more than 200 kids. It’s a different ballgame right now in terms of where they’re at and where we need to get to. We have a long way to go.”

St. Edward scored on six touchdown runs – three in the first quarter, two in the second quarter and one in the third quarter. The Eagles outrushed SMF 248 yards to minus-18 yards. They sat their starters halfway through the second quarter.

The Bulldogs avoided the shutout when freshman quarterback Jake Harrington completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Joey Lehner in the fourth quarter. Harrington was 7-of-14 for 77 yards, while Lehner had two receptions for 53 yards.

“I’m super proud of Jake,” said Poder. “He played the entire season pretty banged up and beat up. He got sacked almost 30 times, but he did everything in his power to be able to finish what he started. I have a lot of respect for him.

“We lost Joey to an injury at the beginning of the season. He came back the last three games, and in each of those games he had a touchdown.”

Poder is excited about next season.

“The people who are going to stay with us this offseason, it’s going to be a culture of accountability,” he said. “The effort, the work ethic and everything that’s required to get us to where we need to be … next year we’re going to have players who love football, who aren’t afraid of failure, will attack failure to get success.

“We’re going to return eight players on offense, so we should be more efficient on that side of the ball. We have to get stronger and bigger in the weight room, and that comes from lifting weights and also what we’re putting in our bodies nutrition-wise. That’s going to be the major, major focus of this offseason. We had way too many injuries. We played Friday with almost our fourth-string defensive line.

“Better times on the horizon, but we have to make sure that everyone who is on board is not just about being on the football team but wants to be part of the solution.”

Girls cross country: Junior duo of Atkinson, Ingrassia headed to state meet

The girls cross country team produced two state qualifiers Oct. 29 in the Division I regional meet at Boardman High School.

Junior Jayla Atkinson finished 19th out of 189 runners with a time of 19 minutes, 44 seconds, and classmate Deena Ingrassia finished 26th with a time of 19:54.1. The top 32 individuals qualified for the state meet at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park in Obetz, which will take place at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5. It will be Atkinson’s third trip to the state meet and Ingrassia’s second.

“It wasn’t Jayla’s best time, it wasn’t her best performance, but it’s nice having a kid where they can have a hard day and still qualify for the state meet,” head coach Aaron Morris said. “We were still happy that she was able to qualify and get herself another week and be able to work on some things this week.

“I was real happy with Deena’s race. She was 32nd for almost all of the race. When she headed back up into the wooded area, she really went to work. It’s a little bit of an uphill there, and she ended up passing six runners in the last 600 meters of the race. I’m real proud of her. She wasn’t too far off of her best time ever, and that’s not a fast course. Getting her back to the state-meet course, which is a fast course, bodes well for her next week.”

Overall, Stow-Munroe Falls finished 16th out of 24 teams with 378 points. Westlake won the competition with 63 points. Shaker Heights finished second with 125 points, while Avon was third with 157 points.

“We came up a little short from where we were hoping to be,” said Morris. “We had a couple tough races but had some good races, too.”

Also for the Bulldogs, junior Ellie Brosch finished 93rd with a time of 21:13.4, senior Sydney Pitcovich placed 142nd with a clocking of 21:52.2, and senior Lily Baker was 157th with a time of 22:11.

Boys cross country: Senior Micah Bentley advances to state

Just like he has done all season long, Micah Bentley took care of business.

The senior cross country runner qualified for the Division I state meet with a solid performance at the regional meet Oct. 29 at Boardman High School. Bentley finished in 20th place out of 193 runners with a time of 16:28.2. The top 28 individuals qualified for the state meet at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park in Obetz, which will be run at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5.

“Micah ran a smart race,” head coach J.K. LeSeure said. “He really knows how to run the Boardman course. He just made it happen. He ran really well, but I think he still has a big, fast race in him yet. Hopefully, he’ll have a successful day and hopefully run a pretty fast time Saturday.”

Overall, Stow-Munroe Falls finished 11th out of 24 teams with 281 points. Jackson won the competition with 124 points. Perry finished second with 152 points, and Medina was third with 167 points.

“We ran as well as could’ve reasonably been expected,” said LeSeure. “We were hoping for some big days, but we didn’t have the big days. We didn’t have anybody run badly either, though.”

Senior Zach Shawala finished 42nd with a time of 16:59, while classmate Connor Scarberry was close behind with a 44th-place time of 16:59.9.

“Zach and Connor both broke 17 minutes, and on that course that’s pretty impressive,” LeSeure said. “That was the best they’ve ever run on that course, so that’s all you can ask from those guys.”

Sophomore Gavin Rossman finished 126th with a time of 18:04.4, and senior Trent Macura was right behind in 127th place with a course-best clocking of 18.04.7.

“Gavin has been a little banged up for much of the season, so that was probably one of his better races of the year. He got out, was aggressive and went after it,” said the coach. “Trent ran a similar race that he’s run for most of the season. He had a late surge to get where he needed to be.”

Girls soccer: Bulldogs prove their mettle in OT loss to powerful Twinsburg in district semis

It was a battle royale between sixth-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls and top-seeded and host Twinsburg Oct. 24 in a Division I district semifinal girls soccer game.

In the end, the Tigers came out on top by a 2-1 score in overtime. SMF finished the season with an 8-6-4 record.

“It was sort of like an Ali-Frazier analogy, their second fight,” head coach Jim Dudones said. “Twinsburg came out really strong, high press, just all over us, and I knew we had to survive that, which we did. I knew Twinsburg couldn’t do that for 80 minutes, which they couldn’t, but they were able to get a goal on us after about 20 minutes, which ironically came on a counterattack. We basically had the ball in their end, but they won the ball and sort of beat us back to our goal.

“There was a little irony there because we spent most of the first half in our end defending. There was about a 10- or 15-minute period where we were able to move the ball to their end, and it was then that they scored. So basically they drew us out away from the goal, and then they were able to get down there and score.”

The Bulldogs knew it would be tough sledding in the second half.

“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Dudones. “The tide kind of turned in our favor, though. We started to get more of the play and eventually broke through.”

About 20 minutes into the second half, freshman central midfielder Meghan Covel scored to tie the game 1-1. Both teams slugged it out for the rest of the second half, but no one scored.

“We’d prepared the girls beforehand that it might take more than 80 minutes, so I don’t think we were unprepared,” Dudones said. “Going into the overtime, I knew we could play with Twinsburg. There was no reason to think we couldn’t win the game. I didn’t feel like we were just barely holding on or anything like that. That was not the case. I didn’t feel like we were overmatched and that it was just by our fingernails we’d taken them to overtime. That was not the way the game went.”

The home team scored early in the overtime period to end the game.

“I did think that Twinsburg was maybe a little stronger than us but not by a lot, and I’d say the score pretty much indicates that I’m right on that,” said the coach. “I also knew they were really good. Our girls played really hard. It had nothing to do with effort. It was just one of those things where the game has to end and somebody has to win. It’s just disappointing obviously for our program and our athletes that it ended the way it did, but it was a great game.”

Two seniors who played well for SMF were midfielder Kailey Hobart and defender Addie McCoy.

“Twinsburg decided to try to mark Kailey out of the game, so they just assigned someone to follow her around everywhere she went. So anytime she went anywhere, she just had a little escort with her,” Dudones said. “That’s typically what happened to her. In any game where the opponent had any soccer savvy, that’s what happened, so it wasn’t a new thing for her. It was hard because you have that person on you and then you’re going to confront other people, too. Even with that, Kailey still broke free several times against Twinsburg and wreaked havoc and caused all kinds of confusion and problems for them.

“Addie was sort of the coach-on-the-field player, the brains of the operation. She was just a very clever, very smart, player. She had a very, very good game against Twinsburg. Her job was to not allow their players to get behind her, and she did that. So everything that happened was in front of us, and that very much frustrated them.

“Honestly, every one of the six seniors who played made major contributions in the game.”

Dudones said the eight seniors he will lose to graduation made for a special group.

“This senior class was especially good,” he said. “It had good leadership and was loaded with talent. You don’t ever look to replace that, you just look to try to figure out a different way to play with the personnel that you have. Our cupboard isn’t empty. We have some top-notch returning players. Then you think about the players underneath who are coming up and who is ready to take the next step. We get players back from injury who didn’t play all season long, but then you always wonder, ‘Are they going to be the same athlete?’ That’s always a factor because coming back from injury is not a simple thing.”