Lofty goals for Kirtland runners

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Kirtland’s cross country teams enter the 2018 season with plenty of promise and lofty goals.

Those goals include competing for its first Chagrin Valley Conference title in many years and advancing a number of runners to the regional and possibly the state cross country meets.

“A lofty goal for us would be to compete for a conference championship,” said eighth-year Kirtland coach JP Moran. “It has been a while since Kirtland cross country has won a CVC title. We also have individual goals of advancing in the postseason. We need to work hard each week and compete for spots, not only on our team but in the meets with other teams. We will need a solid top five pack with some low times and numbers.”

Jake Grdadolnik and Konnor Duncan are among the top boys returning for Kirtland while Julie Namciu and Emily Crebs lead the way for the girls’ team.

Grdadolnik earned second team All-CVC honors as a junior last fall.

“He has put in a great summer,” Moran said. “He has been racing all summer and is very focused on having a great senior season.”

Duncan also earned second team All-CVC honors after earning a spot in the Division III regional meet.

“He has attended multiple cross country camps this summer to improve on his season from last year,” Moran said. “He is also focused on a successful senior campaign.”

Namciu burst on the scene last year by punching her ticket to regionals as a freshman. She earned second team All-CVC honors and is among the top 25 girls runners in Kirtland High School history.

Crebs earned honorable mention all-league honors last fall.

“She worked extremely hard this summer,” Moran said. “She is a team leader as a senior and is poised to have a solid season.”

The Hornets have a solid core of returning runners coming back. Although that group is relatively young, the experience they gained last fall should help the team move to the front of the pack.

“We have some good freshmen runners from last year returning and a few new upperclassmen to go along with returning letter winners from last season, so it will be interesting to see how the team competition plays out,” Moran said. “We have good numbers for us, so competition for the top seven should be intense this season.”

Kirtland opens the season at Berkshire’s Early Bird Invitational on August 25 at Kent State University’s Geauga Campus.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, 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 IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com 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.