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Springville-GI cross-country teams continue successes

SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute cross-country girls have finished in the top five at all three individual events in which they recently participated. Both the girls and boys teams ran at the East Aurora Invitational on Sept. 22.

“They had another strong showing in the invitational,” said Coach Chad Russell.

The S-GI girls placed fifth in small schools and have recently been named the sixth-ranked small school, according to Buffalo News polls.

Junior Jess Wojtkowiak led the Lady Griffs, finishing third out of 100 runners. The athlete was named a Buffalo News runner of the week, after her performance in the 5K race. This was Wojtkowiak’s first year doing cross-country, as she played soccer, last fall.

“I decided to run cross-country this year, because I wanted a change,” she said. “I wanted to do a sport that was team-oriented, but you run as an individual.”

Wojtkowiak said that she switched sports due to her many hours of training with her parents.

“My key to my success early on, I think, was just my training over the summer,” she said. “I woke up my parents early in the morning to take me running. Mr. Russell also has helped me out by pushing me to run at a faster pace and longer distances, every day. I’ve learned that, in cross-country, the work and effort you put into it is what you’ll get out of it.”

Russell said that he has heard many reactions about Wojtkowiak’s early success.

“I have had many coaches from other schools ask where I found Jessica,” he said. “She has earned, through training, her success, and she has surprised me with her maturity and humbleness.”

For the girls varsity meet, Jessica Hotchkiss and Meghan Loop placed sixth and seventh, respectively, on the team.

While S-GI is now in its fifth year participating in cross-country, this was the first time that the girls fielded a full junior varsity team. Russell said that the growth the JV team has exhibited has pushed the varsity team to a sixth-ranked position in the polls.

The boys team finished in eighth place at the East Aurora Invitational Sept. 22.

Mitch Bunic led the S-GI boys, finishing 21st. Bunic placed first in his 15 – 19-year-old age group during the summer, at the Quakerman Triathlon. Following Bunic were Elliott Tessmer and Tyler Olrogg. Finishing the scoring for the boys team were Donald Piatek and Garrett Olrogg.

The teams will compete again on Tuesday, Oct. 2, traveling to Amherst for a meet with the Tigers.
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