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Fort girls bring home Anderson Invite team title

Photo by Josh Hughes Fort Frye’s Emma Richards runs in the Jeremy Anderson Invitational Saturday in Beverly. Richards won the girls race with a time of 19 minutes, 34.6 seconds.

BEVERLY — This year’s Jeremy Anderson Invitational saw local competitors vying for top spots, and plenty of runners left their mark to cap off a hot day on Saturday from Fort Frye’s Cadet Stadium.

The girls kicked off a day of races, as Fort Frye’s Cadence Waller (19:34.16) was the first to conquer the 3.11-mile race. Her efforts, combined with those of her top-placing teammates, earned Fort the top girls’ team spot. The Cadets bested second-place Caldwell by a combined margin of nearly five minutes en route to 32 points. Caldwell’s effort got them 55, and visiting Marietta was third with 60.

Waller had company in tow when she crossed the finish line. Teammate Emma Richards finished in second at 19:46.2, and Caldwell’s Brynn Block rounded out the top three (20:02.3). A pair of local placers saw finishes in the top five, with Ava Gebczyk of Marietta and Ava Huck of Fort Frye finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. The win for Waller and the Cadets is a big momentum boost, and this being a home meet for the Cadets gave them an opportunity to impress. They did just that.

“It was good,” Waller said of how she felt during the race. “I was comfortable when I first went out. I knew I could be comfortable in the first two miles (with this being Fort Frye’s home race). We definitely feel like we’re where we need to be.”

Alongside Richards, Huck and 14th-place Laine Spindler, Waller spearheads a Fort Frye team ready to take that next step. Head coach Jason Lipot liked what he saw out of his competitors in both races, and he hopes this victory can serve as a momentum builder for his girls.

Photo by Josh Hughes Marietta's Ezra Minard runs in Saturday's Jeremy Anderson Invitational in Beverly.

“I think they had some great motivation for this one, with this being a home meet and running for Jeremy,” Lipot said of the girls.

“I think they were ready. They were focused, and they produced how they should have ran today. That’s what I expected, and I’ve got to give a shoutout to Ava Huck. She was the surprise one today. Even though Cadence and Emma finished 1-2, what Ava did for us as our No. 3 runner, it was a very tremendous effort. Our top five was great, and the whole team on the back-end was great today.”

Also finishing in the top 10 locally were Federal Hocking’s Rosemary Stephens in eighth and Marietta’s Hannah Lovejoy in ninth.

On the boys’ side, Warren kept the pressure on the field, and with everyone healthy, got the team victory with 51 points to second place Marietta’s 55. The Warriors and Tigers cruised to those top spots, as Waterford (105) and Fort Frye (110) took third and fourth. While Portsmouth’s Charles Putnam (15:48.4) and Eastern’s Brayden O’Brien 16:00.9 took the top individual spots, Marietta’s Ezra Minard (16:06.9) and Warren’s Bryson Angelo (16:29.2) were right behind them.

For Minard, he was pleased with his bronze finish, as the Tigers got plenty of production. That helped keep things razor thin against Warren.

“I knew the course. I ran it last year,” he said. “I tried not to go too fast, which didn’t really work out, but I still finished. I’m really happy with it. I believe I got a PR. I haven’t checked that yet, and our team is getting better every week. Individually, I’m where I want to be, and it’s the same with the team as well.”

Warren head coach Ryan Werry saw key performances out of his upperclassmen to bring home the victory, as he believes the team is peaking at the right time.

“We did well today, and we got all our guys back. We had two guys who had been out for the past two races, Brennan and Drew,” he said. “They really gave us a jumpstart today, also with Bryson. Our three seniors finished 1-2-3. Aiden (Westerman) had a PR today (18:32.0 in 15th place). Then, we had a pack of guys, 5-6-7 who brought it home for us. It was close. We still have some work to do. We lost some key guys last year, but getting these guys back, they’re starting to work through it, and we’re looking good. I’m proud of our boys.”

Federal Hocking’s Evan McPherson finished fifth (16:32.3), and Fort’s Phinn Spindler was right behind him at 16:38.2. Other local top 10 finishers were Brennan Perdue (eighth) and Andrew Vincent (ninth) of Warren.

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