By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
Field cross country head coach Ed Conroy knows that no one remembers who won the first meet come postseason time.
Still, it never hurts to win.
The Falcons boys took first overall in the Division II race at the 2013 Ashley White-Stumpf Invitational, held at Marlington High School on Saturday.
Field was not the only Portage Trail Conference to run to success at the event, with the Crestwood girls winning the Division II team title, while both the Rootstown boys and girls programs won the team championships in Division III.
The Falcons posted 37 team points, which was followed by Marlington, which had 45 points. Crestwood finished third (88 points), with additional PTC teams including Southeast (10th, 268) and Streetsboro (11, 271).
In both the boys and girls races, the runners competed across division lines with their individual finishes counting in their respective division standings.
Nate Conroy led the way for Field, finishing 10th overall with a time of 17:17.13. Teammates Clark Bookman (14th, 17:29.18) and Adam Salberg (18th, 17:38.4) rounded out the top 20 finishers for the Falcons.
"We're content with what the boys did today," Conroy said. "We have a strong top four with Nate, Clark, Adam and Harrison Lewis (23rd overall). But we also are in trouble if we don't get a good run from our fifth man.
"But we can't let this race be the best race of our season," Conroy added. "We need to continue to progress and get better. We enjoyed this win for 15 minutes, then they knew it was time to move on and look forward to the PTC Giant Duel and the Boardman Spartans Invitational."
In the boys Division III race, Rootstown totaled 19 team points.
William Morgan was the Rovers' top runner, finishing in eighth place (17:07.9). Dillon Melby (43rd, 18:30.4), Matt Colpo, (72nd, 19:06.6), Keith Begue (88th, 19:32.9), Brandon Rhodes (116th, 19:56.8), Jacob White (178th, 21:21.1) and Padraig Stack (214th, 22:29.3) rounded out the list of placers of the Rovers.
Despite Morgan's relatively strong outing, running against Division I and II competitors, longtime Rootstown head coach Larry Bailey said that his standout senior was not at his best on Saturday.
"William has been sick the last couple of weeks," Bailey said. "So his time was a little off today. Plus, I think he got out a little too fast. But he'll be fine, and I expect him to get to state this year."
Bailey added that early races like Saturday's event, especially with temperatures creeping into the 90s, don't often give an accurate picture of what to expect going forward.
"I think, overall, it's a little too early to tell how everything is going to go," Bailey said. "It was hot out today and this is a pretty tough course."
Crestwood's girls program took first overall in the Division II run, posting nearly half as many points (41) as second-place Carrollton (80).
The Red Devils were led by Abby Soltisz, who placed fourth overall in a time of 20:14.8. Following Soltisz were teammates Kira Judd (10th, 20:50.9), Challis Roberts (14th, 21:08.5), Evie Head (18th, 21:17.4) and Taylor Michael (20th, 21:22.1).
Crestwood coach Megan Miller said she feels great about the way her girls are performing this early in the 2013 season.
"We ran at the Billy Goat Invitational last weekend and all of our girls have improved from last weekend," Miller said. "Despite the heat, I think we ran a great race as a team, with three seniors in our top five and a freshman in Evie Head starting off strong."
Field (3rd, 87 points) also turned in a great team performance, led by Becca Pohlod (15th, 21:11.2) and Abby Chasar (23rd, 21:28.4). Southeast (8th, 190) and Streetsboro (9th, 249) rounded out the PTC teams in Division II.
Rootstown also took first overall in the girls Division III run with 35 team points. Erin Housley (51st, 22:29.4) and Emma Burns (57th, 22:40.9) led the way for the Rovers on the afternoon.
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