Girls Cross Country Season Wraps Up

Magnificent 7 Runs for Fun

Julia Martinez and Coach Taurasi at the Regional

Julia Martinez and Coach Taurasi at the Regional

The “Sweet 16” is often associated with BIG events. A “milestone” birthday and a round in an athletic tournament can both lay claim to this phrase. For West Geauga girls cross country head coach, Mr. Mike Taurasi, however, it represents his tenure in years of being in charge of the team. Highlighted by two team championships at invitationals and freshman, Julia Martinez’s, qualification to the regional meet, the 2018 season had some “sweet” moments !

The team had a total of 7 runners this season. In what was a smaller-than-average year, participant wise, the squad was comprised of two sophomores and five freshman: no seniors or juniors !

To prepare for the season, the girls were to run over the summer and log their miles; this would give the coaches an idea as to the ladies’ fitness levels when practice began. The team ran over the summer at local parks and a few of the girls attended running camps, also.

With such an inexperienced team, Taurasi said the goals were, “…to stay healthy all season, improve personal records each week, improve on last year’s CVC finish (9th) and qualify the team or individuals to the regional meet.” They did a little better than that…

They won the George Gross Invitational by 36, outpointing Beachwood, 21 – 57. The team was led by Martinez’s 4th place in 21:57. Skye Hackathorn was next (5th/21:58), and sophomore captain Maddie Barker (9th/23:08), Emily Vash (10th/23:16), Julia Mansfield (16th/24:50) and Parker Long (22nd/25:23) all finished in the top 25.

The girls also blasted the field, winning the McDonough Invitational. West G. had 5 runners in the top 10, finishing with 33 points. Martinez again led the Wolverines, finishing 3rd in 22:12. Solid performances were turned in by Hackathorn (5th/22:28), Barker (7th /23:08), fellow sophomore Yvette Petersen (8th/23:26), and Vash (24:05) placed 10th. Freshman Mansfield (25:35) also finished in “top 30,” placing 23rd.

The team finished 4th at the CVC meet and, in the post season, 6th at Districts. That is one place away from qualifying to the regional as a team. Speaking of the regional…

Freshman Julia Martinez qualified to regionals by finishing 14th at the Madison district. Her season ended with a 96th place (of 163 runners) at the Boardman regional. Julia said, “It was great to experience the amount of competition and it put into perspective how serious running is at this level. I did my best to get out there and run a fast race, despite the muddy conditions. Just being there gave me some insight for the following years.”

Coach Taurasi noted, “The girls are a great, dedicated group of athletes that I really enjoy coaching. I look forward to watching them grow and improve over the next few years.” With the entire team returning next season, the ladies are looking to improve upon this season’s accomplishments. Martinez echoed that sentiment, adding, “Hopefully next year we can make it out as a team!”

Now that would be SWEET !