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Firestone girls cross country team finishes second in league

10/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

WEST AKRON — The Firestone High School girls cross country team finished the 2013 season in second place in the City Series with a 4-1 overall record.

“We expected to win [the] City [Series], and we were working towards that, but we only lost by 5 points,” said head coach Malia Milec. “They worked hard, so I’m happy with their performance.”

Overall, Milec said, this year’s squad had what she considers a “medium” amount of experience.

The athlete on the team with the most experience, she said, was “four-year senior” Angel Standard.

“Angel is quiet, but happy. She works hard,” the coach said. “She’s an excellent leader and a great teammate. She was always good at bringing spirit to the team. She is always smiling and helping people out. If a girl would have a hard time getting to practice, Angel would be the first person to offer her a ride.”

The team captains this season were seniors Leah Struhsaker and Kat Mastro.

“They were consistently our third and fourth runners, and they were outstanding captains,” Milec said. “They had a sleepover for the whole team before the championship meet; they had little note cards and little knick-knacks for the team before the meet. They were really good at motivating their team. They gave little pep talks, and everything I would normally say to the team, the captains took care of. They did an outstanding job of motivating, and they always had something nice to say before a race.”

According to Milec, junior Kate Piscetta and sophomore Amelia McNutt each spent time during the season as the team’s No. 1 runner.

“Kate led for most of the season, and then Amelia was our top runner for the last three meets,” she said. “Amelia improved throughout the season. She started off in the 25s and finished with a 22:39. Kate ran a 23:21 about six times. So Kate stayed very consistent and Amelia improved at each meet.”

Also playing key roles for the varsity team this season were junior Paige White and sophomores Kaitlyn Brubaker, Lauren Vegh and Payton Rea.

“Kaitlyn and Paige were consistently four and five for us,” the coach said. “Lauren was in and out with a knee injury. Payton was also a soccer player, and she ran mostly in Saturday races. Payton and Lauren switched in and out on varsity.”

As the season progressed, Milec said, most of the team’s runners showed improvement.

“At the beginning of the season, my girls started in the 26 or 25 range, and this week, three girls ran in the 22s and the 23s, so they each improved by about 90 seconds,” she stated.

The coach said the future looks “pretty strong” for the girls cross country team.

“Next year, if we start where we finished, then we should be pretty confident about winning the City [Series],” she said. “On the varsity team, a good number of girls will be back, and then we have some pretty strong underclassmen that will run throughout the winter and, hopefully, run track in the spring. That will definitely help us improve next year.”

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