Sunday, September 19

    Independence shows improvement at Avon Lake

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    Independence’s cross country teams showed improvement at the Avon Lake Early Bird Invitational on Saturday at Lorain County Community College.

    The girls’ team placed eighth while the boys finished 12th overall.

    Sophomore Alana Nowak set another personal best as she finished fourth with a time of 20:53.

    “Setting another PR was exactly what I wanted from this past meet,” Nowak said. “Knowing that I was able to achieve this at LCCC reassured me that I can be competitive in the district meet, which is held at LCCC. I’m always looking for improvement, so I was proud to see a drop in times between weeks one and two. The weather was also a lot cooler than the previous week, which helped.”

    Nowak approached the second invitational of the season the same way she always does, but she set a goal and did whatever she had to in order to finish among the top five.

    “I went out in this race the same as I always do, to push myself and work as hard as I can,” she said. “I went out hard to stay with the front pack and both of my coaches were telling me during the race that if I want to set a PR or stay in the top five I have to keep on pushing. I used their feedback during the race to keep me going and kept the goal of leaving everything I have out on the course fresh in my mind.”

    Senior Gabby McGreevy also finished among the top 20 as she placed 17th with a time of 23:10.

    Sophomore Julia Deblock (27:57), senior Lucy Biliunas (29:05), sophomore Stephanie Laskowski (29:16), and seniors Sonia Sajovie (30:07) and Raina Makhlouf (34:53) also competed in the girls’ race.

    Junior Kyle McGovern paced the boys’ team. He finished 31st overall with a time of 19:14.

    Freshman Sam Crooks trimmed off 12 seconds from last week when he closed out the race in 20:15, good for 57th place.

    Crooks learned a lot from his first meet and he expects his progression to continue throughout the season as he gains more experience at the high school level.

    “As a runner, I am always looking to improve my time from each race,” Crooks said. “I would say there’s definitely an adjustment I’m experiencing right now, moving from a two-mile to a three-mile race, but I’m confident that everyone’s times will improve throughout the season. (I’m) definitely learning how to change my pace, but all in all, it’s been an awesome first few weeks of the season.”

    Freshman James Kitagawa (21:21), sophomores Carter Peters (21:40), Brian Angyal (22:45), and Nathan Pawuk (23:19), and senior Jack Valenti (23:29) also ran for the Blue Devils.

    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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