McGhee, Skoczen finish among top 25 at regionals

Independence Cross Country

Independence’s girls’ cross country team saw its season come to a close at the Division III regional cross country meet at Boardman High School in Youngstown on Saturday, but the Blue Devils have a bright future.

Freshman Makenna McGhee and sophomore Emily Skoczen both finished among the top 25 at regionals and all seven runners who competed return next season.

McGhee finished 17th overall with a time of 20:27. Only the top 12 individuals advanced to the state meet.

“I wanted to qualify for state but it didn’t happen this year,” said McGhee, who clocked a season-best time of 19:44 at the Gilmour Invitational. “I am disappointed but it will be motivation for next season. I learned a lot about how to run strategically this year. Next year, I hope to consistently run under 20 minutes.”

Skoczen finished 25th with a time of 21:09.

“I feel that our region had some great competition so it was a good experience to run against some faster individuals and run as a team this year,” Skoczen said. “I wasn’t too concerned with my time. Regionals is all about where you place and I was happy with where I placed compared to other runners.”

For Skoczen, who ran a season-best 20:16 at the district meet last weekend, next season can’t come soon enough.

“After dropping my PR to 20:16, I was much more proud of my season and how I progressed,” she said. “I can’t wait for next year because I think we will have a really strong team. I plan to work hard over winter to prepare me for track season as well as put in the miles over the summer to prepare for my junior year of cross country next year.”

Freshman Paige Westerburg (24:44), sophomores Izabell McGreevy (23:05) and Josie Lee (25:42), and juniors Erica Esper (24:43) and Emma Wensink (26:36) also competed for the Blue Devils, who finished 10th as a team.

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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.