Norton, Manchester runners set to race
By Jeff Gorman
NORTON — Norton and Manchester high schools will race in a nonleague cross country meet Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. at Goodyear Heights Metro Park.
Seniors Chris Theobald and Jon Corp are the pacesetters of the Norton boys team.
“They have provided strong leadership and posted some very good times,” said Norton coach Austin Petit.
Helping them out are a pair of first-year cross country runners: sophomore Tim Scott and junior Rob Balash.
“They have both been real surprises for us,” said Petit.
Norton has a 3-3 record in the Portage Trail Conference.
“Last year, we only won one meet in the conference,” Petit said.
Sophomore Hannah Farmer leads the girls squad for Norton.
“She has been our most consistent runner,” said Petit.
Two other underclassmen who have run well for Norton are freshman Rachel Bednarczyk and sophomore Jenna Lada.
“Rachel has really brought her time down as the year has gone on,” said Petit. “She has really excelled for us.
“Jenna is another newcomer to the program,” he added. “She was slowed by an injury earlier in the season, but she has a lot of promise for the future.”
Norton only has five runners on the girls varsity team.
“It’s been a struggle to get numbers,” said Petit. “All of our girls are young, so I’m looking forward to building on that and getting more ladies on the team.
“Manchester always has some nice runners,” he added. “That should be a good contest for us.”
Norton will then compete for the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division title Oct. 13.
“Field and Crestwood [high schools] should be two of the top teams in the league,” said Petit. “They will be fighting it out for the title in the boys and girls meets.
“Overall, I’m very happy with how we are performing,” he added. “Our times have been coming down, and we are gearing up for a strong finish.”
For Manchester, senior Nathan Graham has been the leader in practices and meets, according to coach Steve Schaadt. Graham was a regional qualifier in the 2-mile run in track last spring. He finished in the top 10 in the PAC-7 Dual Meets Sept. 17. The team went 4-2 in the meets, losing only to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) and Tusky Valley High School.
Like the Norton squad, Manchester also has five runners on the girls team. Senior Mindy King is a four-year letter winner.
Schaadt said the warm weather has taken its toll on his team and their opponents.
“Distance runners don’t like warm weather,” he said. “If you look at everyone’s times, they are about 2 minutes higher than last year’s. I worry about them staying hydrated. Hopefully, we’ll be getting some cool weather soon.”
As far as the race in the PAC-7 goes, Schaadt said CVCA is the heavy favorite.
“The CVCA girls are ranked second in the state,” he said, “and they won the third largest meet in the country in Tiffin. Having a team of that caliber in your league makes things challenging.”