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Falls girls cross country team to be led by dynamic duo

by Frank Aceto Associate sports editor Published: August 21, 2016 12:00 AM
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Dan Scourfield doesn't need time to think about who will lead the way.

The rest of the cast, on the other hand, is a bit more hazy.

The Cuyahoga Falls girls cross country team hopes to make some strides after finishing tied for seventh in its first year of the Suburban League National Conference. Hudson won the conference title in 2015.

The Lady Black Tigers lost two standout runners to graduation. Madelyn Bauer and Stephanie McCarthy graduated during the spring.

Falls also lost Kalli Barrett, who was in the top three for the Lady Black Tigers throughout much of last season. Barrett transferred to Hudson.

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Fortunately for Falls, two standouts are returning.

Regional qualifiers Emily Zimmerman, a senior, and Kayla Huffman, a junior, are back in the mix.

"Emily and Kayla are two highly decorated girls at Falls," said Scourfield, who enters his 11th year as the team's head coach. "They have five regional appearances, two state appearances and some school records. They're going to lead the way."

Other returning seniors are Paige Wingard and Sarah Jones. Another senior, who is currently nursing a knee injury, is Jordan Reinhart, a fourth-year runner.

The rest of the returnees include juniors Madi Davis and Payton Veto and sophomores Melody Lewis, Kristica Barnett, Valerie Deighton and Mikayla Shaffer.

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Scourfield also has several runners who are new to the sport.

The sophomore newcomers feature Anna Johnston, Alivia Hamric, Briannah Babbitt and Taylor Hillman.

"Anna had a heck of a track season," Scourfield said. "We're trying to stretch her out as a 5K runner. She is transitioning well.

"Alivia also had a really good track season. She really came on in the end. We're trying to get her to go from 400 to 5K."

Rounding out the squad are freshmen Chelsea Huffman, who is Kayla Huffman's younger sister, Kearan Barnett, Meredith Gallagher, Natalie Huryn, Leila Wargowsky, Elayne Huber, Zoe King, Virginia King, Samantha Lamer and Grace Ohler.

"I never had a freshman class this big," Scourfield said. "Meredith, Natalie and Leila came from Miller South in Akron. They are proving to be a surprise, which is nice."

With a large number of girls on the roster, Scourfield's main task is to figure out who will run behind his top two runners.

"Somewhere in there, we'll find a varsity," he said. "It's like a poker hand ... you've got to have five. I have to find three more. I feel very fortunate to have those two [Zimmerman and Huffman] up front."

As for Zimmerman and Huffman, they're going all in. They're determined to reach the state competition.

"I think they were both disappointed about not getting there last year," Scourfield said. "Both of them worked hard this summer."

Although he has two of the better runners in the area, Scourfield knows his team will have its hands full in the talented National Conference.

"There will probably be a lot of mistakes made," he said. "They are a great group of girls. Our sixth and seventh runners could be changing every week. We have that many girls running about the same. We definitely want to be better at the end of the year."

The Lady Black Tigers are scheduled to make their 2016 season debut against Firestone Aug. 23 at Bolich Middle School. The race is set to begin at 5 p.m.

Falls is scheduled to compete at the Seneca Tiger Classic Aug. 27 in Attica. The race is set to begin at 9 a.m.

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