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CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS—Track teams and athletes work hard all season to peak at the time.

After placing among the top four in six events at the Division III District meet to extend their season by at least one more week, it’s safe to say the Kirtland Hornets have hit their stride at the right moment.

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Julie Namciu and Delaney Kuczkowski both set lifetime personal records in their regional-qualifying events and the other Hornets ran the best times of their season to earn their top placements.

“I’m thrilled,” said Kirtland coach J.P. Moran. “The girls really stepped up today. We obviously knew we were sitting in some spots where it was possible but Julie Namciu lifetime PRd by two seconds in the 400 to be the district runner-up. Reilly Greenlee, we were going to try and get her out in the 1600 and the 3200 and she ends up being the district runner-up. Maria Alfieri takes top four in the hurdles and then Delaney had a lifetime PR in the 800 to take third. That was super exciting.”

With their success on the track, the Hornets finished in sixth place as a team with 46 points.

“We weren’t really focusing on that but that was a pleasant part of the evening.

Kirtland’s 4×800-meter relay team of Sophia DeMarco, Kuczkowski, Namciu, and Greenlee punched their ticket to regionals during Wednesday’s preliminary rounds. That group finished in 11:26.95.

On Friday, Greenlee placed and qualified in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs, Kuczkowski also advanced in the 800, and Namciu punched her ticket to regionals in the 400. Maria Alfieri also qualified for the regional meet with her fourth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles.

Greenlee placed second in the 1600 with a time of 5:53.92 and fourth in the 3200 in 13:20.74.

“Reilly ran her best 1600 of the year,” Moran said. “It’s not a surprise she got out, but to be district runner-up was a pleasant surprise.”

Kuczkowski entered the meet with times that put her in the second half of the pack but her lifetime PR of 2:35.21 landed her third place and she finished less than six seconds behind the winner.

“Delaney, coming in we were talking about the top six to eight and she took third with a lifetime PR,” Moran said.

Namciu also saved her best time of the season in the 400 for the district meet. She finished in 1:01.84.

“I can’t believe she ran a 61,” Moran said. “She ran a perfect race. It looked like she was running the 400 her whole life. Ever since the Cuyahoga Heights Relays when she anchored us from sixth place to third (in the 4×400-meter relay), she has found another gear and from that day on and she started loving the 400. She ended up the MVP of that meet and that really put her in an awesome spot for the rest of the season.”

Alfieri qualified for regionals with a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.55. She also scored in the long jump with a seventh-place finish and a leap of 14-feet, 6 ¾-inches.

Morgan Carmosino also scored in the long jump. She cleared 14-feet, 6 ¼-inches to finish eighth.

Kirtland also placed eighth in the 4×100-meter relay. Alyssa Bryll, Carmosino, Elin Conner, and Maia Raguz finished that relay in 56.61 and seventh in the 4×400-meter relay.

The seventh-place finish nearly didn’t happen as Moran had considered not entering a team in that race but Bryll, DeMarco, Payton VanArnhem, and Namciu did compete and ran a solid time of 4:37.17 to score two team points.

“We were thinking of not even putting a 4×4 together because the girls were loaded up on other events because we’re not as deep as we’ve been in other years and they end up placing seventh and then our 4×1 placed eighth,” Moran said. “Marissa and Maria placed seventh and eighth in the long jump. They didn’t get to regionals but they helped us get top-sixth at districts. It was nice to finish that high. Our girls were gamers. You always draw it up and hope you’re going to run your best times at this time of year but it doesn’t always happen. It happened today and I was ecstatic.”

Kirtland’s boys’ team completes its second day of the Division II district on Saturday at Perry. Alex Fellinger already has qualified to the regional meet with a third-place finish in the discus.

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