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    Independence boys win Avon Lake Early Bird Meet


    What a difference a week makes.

    David Wisniewski finished ninth

    After opening the season with a middle of the pack finish at the Berkshire Early Bird Invitational, the Independence cross country teams turned in a strong performance at the 2014 Avon Lake Early Bird Meet at Lorain Community College on Saturday.

    The Blue Devils’ boys won the meet and the girls finished third.

    “It was definitely a better meet than our first one,” said Independence head coach Craig Polman. “We’re still not exactly where I want to be right now but it was definitely a step in the right direction.”

    Sophomore Tyler Polman finished second overall with a time of 17:13.1. He was less than seven seconds behind Buckeye’s Colin Theis.

    “He ran better this past week,” Craig Polman said. “He won this meet last year but the kid he raced against on Saturday was in the upper division last year and he was in our division this year. He’s a pretty good runner. It’s not a big deal to lose to a kid of that quality. He could definitely be a top 10 in the state type of guy.”

    Junior David Wisniewski finished in ninth with a time of 18:16.0 and senior Shane Mathew was 11th with a time of 18:22.1.

    Junior Colin Jedrzejek finished 16th with a time of 18:48.9.

    “I would say out of everybody, I was most pleased with Colin’s time,” Polman said. “I really looked at him as our No. 5 runner this year but he took about a half minute off from the first meet.”

    Senior Adam Anielski was 28th with a time of 19:18.9, junior Matt Mroczynski placed 48th with a time of 19:53.0 and sophomore Erik Liebal finished in 82nd place with a time of 21:24.4.

    “The places in the meet were fine,” Polman said. “The times were still a little bit slow. Colin, who was our fourth runner, had he run that time and been our fifth runner I’d have been really happy with the meet, but he was our No. 4 and Adam was No. 5. It didn’t really hurt us at yesterday’s meet but we want to keep gaining ground on these other Division III schools.”

    Senior Amanda Pucella and sophomore Maria Sagi finished among the top 10 in the girls’ race to lead the Blue Devils to a top three finish behind Padua and Beaumont.

    “The girls’ improvement from week one to week two was even more so than the boys,” Polman said. “I really was disappointed in that first week meet. Berkshire just clobbered us. Their No. 5 was over a minute ahead of our No. 1. That’s a team with five girls running that we beat last year and they’re that much better than us. It was really a letdown last week.”

    Pucella finished eighth with a time of 22:14.3 and Sagi was 10th in 22:35.7.

    Senior Ashley Pucella also finished among the top 15 with a time of 23:14.7 and sophomore Nicole Zaccardelli was 26th with a time of 23:52.8.

    Sophomore Lauren Taras finished 40th (25:35.8) and freshman Kim Rega was 46th (26:16.5).

    “I think most of our girls ran a much better race this week,” Polman said. “I think overall our girls improved quite a bit. Maybe that’s just that experience of getting that first hard run in of the year.”

    The Blue Devils will compete in the Tiffin Carnival this weekend.


    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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