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Springville-GI cross-country teams finish at sectionals

GET GOING — The Springville-Griffith Institute cross-country teams competed at Elma Meadows Golf Course on Nov. 2, to close out the 2012-13 season. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
After a season of 5K races, the Springville-Griffith Institute boys and girls cross-country teams closed out their seasons on Friday, Nov. 2 at Elma Meadows Golf Course.

On the girls’ side, Jess Wojtkowiak led the Lady Griffins, with a time of 20:53. The girls team finished in second place for B2-sized schools, behind only East Aurora. Out of the 21 teams that competed, the girls finished in sixth. This effort is the girl’s best finish in the fifth year after re-establishing the program, after a 20-year hiatus. The team also won sectional matches, along with a team award.

“This is quite impressive, as some schools the girls compete against [are] twice our enrollment size,” said Coach Chad Russell.

Finishing with Wojtkowiak were McKenzie Maloy, with a time of 21:53; Kalei Brautlacht with 22:01; Elle Russell with 23:26; Hanna Hebden with 23:30; Jessica Hotchkiss with 23:50 and Meghan Loop with 24:13. This match marked seniors Hebden’s and Hotchkiss’s last season running cross-country at the high school level.

“Cross-country has given me confidence and perseverance,” Hebden said. “I love it, because I love the feeling you get after a hard workout or race. Knowing you accomplished something so difficult – it’s a great feeling.”

Hotchkiss has run cross-country since eighth grade. This season’s Sectionals marked her last high school race, as well.

“Cross-country has done a lot of things for me,” she said. “It has turned me into a better runner and a better person for my team. My coach has definitely been the biggest supporter, behind my parents. He’s taught me everything there is to know about running, from injuries to making your race your best race. The reason I like the sport so much is because of the challenge it brings. There’s days where you can run when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and other days where it’s 30 degrees with snow and mud. It’s the ultimate sport to test physical abilities, as well as your mentality when running a race.”

The boys team finished 12th out of 22 teams. The runners made an improvement from last year, as they finished 16th in 2011.

The team is made up of mostly underclassman, with one senior on the squad. Mitchel Bunic and Joe Cocina finished 31st and 43rd, respectively out of 143 sectional qualifiers. Bunic ran a time of 18:02 and Cocina ran a time of 18:28.

Also finishing at the race were Elliott Tessmer with 19:41; Tyler Olrogg with 19:46; Donald Piatek with 20:11; Ryan O’Hara with 20:27 and Jake Pokorny with 21:32.

This season’s team moved to Division 3 from Division 4, joining many larger schools. Russell said that he knows being in this division makes his athletes’ progresses hard to see in the team, but noted that that development makes the team stronger.

“This year has been exciting and frustrating,” he said. “Exciting in that the team continues to show good growth in the number of athletes coming out for the team, as well as how the teams has done against other schools in competition. Being moved into division 3, the progress is harder to see, but the tougher competition by being in with larger schools is making the team stronger. Frustration is the state cutting AA size schools from the state track meet and causing most of the A-size schools to be thrown in with the Bs.”
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