Published: Sunday, November 5, 2006
Trumbull's win streak ends at seven straight
McDonald finished third and Maplewood fourth at the Div. III state meet.
By JOE SCALZO
COLUMBUS McDonald coach Chris Rupe had braced himself for what might happen at Saturday's state cross country meet.
Despite a regional championship the week before, Rupe knew the muddy conditions and the overall balance of the teams in Division III didn't necessarily bode well for his team.
Or for Trumbull County.
But bracing yourself is one thing. Dealing with it is another.
A Trumbull County team won every Div. III boys title from 1999-2005. On Saturday, that streak came to an end as McDonald took third and Maplewood finished fourth.
"I don't want to reflect on it, dang it," Rupe said, shaking his head. "I want it to stay alive. I don't want to refer to it in the past tense."
And therein lies the problem. A year ago, when the Blue Devils finished 15th, Rupe would have loved to know his team would finish third the next season.
"If you would have told me last year that we'd finish third and I'd feel deflated, I'd have never believed you," he said. "We made giant strides this season with what is still a pretty young team."
Stark County prevails
Two Stark County teams, Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas and East Canton, finished 1-2 in the race, while the defending individual champion, Maplewood senior Andy Arnio, finished fourth. His teammate, senior Andy Morgan, took third.
The two finished 1-2 at last year's meet to lead the Rockets to their fifth state title.
"It's one of those things where, you can't be upset," Morgan said. "I'm confident we did everything we could."
Maplewood coach Ted Rupe remembered the frustration from the early 1990s when it seemed as if something always went wrong with his teams at the end of the season, no matter how talented they were. Then, starting in 1997, the Rockets started a string of four championships and two second-place finishes in nine years.
"Things just didn't fall this year like they could have," Ted Rupe said. "Some years they do and some years they don't."
Added Morgan, "This year has been completely different. It's been a season filled with disappointment. We were trying to turn it around today."
It's a testament to how successful the two teams have been that they could be so dispirited after finishing third and fourth. (And it's also a testament to the strength of northeast Ohio cross country that the top four teams at the state meet all came out of the Boardman regional.)
Something to shoot at
"I think we've given the other teams a real target to shoot at," Chris Rupe said. "In that way, it's a real honor."
And even though things didn't turn out as well as they could, Chris Rupe's core philosophy hasn't changed.
"Everyone thinks it's about wins and losses, but it's not," he said. "It's about what you do along the way."
Salem senior Patrick Gorby, a member of back-to-back state title teams in 2004-05, finished 12th in Division II with his second-fastest time of the year (16:16), closing out a terrific cross country career.
"I put all my effort into it and I wouldn't change it," said Gorby.
It was a different week for Gorby, who didn't have his teammates with him and instead hung out with the girls team "They are hyper," he said, smiling but he felt he proved something to himself this year by making it to Columbus on his own.
"It was a totally different experience," he said, "but sometimes a new experience is a good experience."