by MICHAEL LEONARD | SPORTS EDITOR
It took the Nordonia girls cross country program 29 years to get back to the state meet.
Both Leah Vasarhelyi and Knights coach Mike Martin are determined to make sure the Knights are familiar faces at states in the future.
Vasarhelyi gave a solid showing in her first trip to the Division I state meet. She finished in 77th place in a personal-best time of 19:25.19.
The state meet took place at National Trail Raceway in Hebron Nov. 3.
Vasarhelyi admitted she was anxious as she made her first appearance at states.
"I was nervous, but excited," she said. "I was kind of like of like Christmas morning."
Martin said Vasarhelyi ran the kind of race he expected.
"She was aggressive in the first mile, which we wanted her to be," Martin said. "Things picked up a bit in the second mile. She was between 65th and 75th [place] much of the race."
Vasarhelyi had a very good first mile, coming in at 5:48.52 in 50th place. The pace in the second mile dropped her a few places, however, as Vasarhelyi was 74th in 12:21.69 at the two-mile mark.
"It was really fast," Vasarhelyi said. "You really don't know what to expect when you're in a race like this until you run it."
"It was the fastest day of the year," Martin said. "It's a quality year for cross country in Ohio, so you know times are going to be fast."
Martin noted Vasarhelyi had run in the 19:30 range several times this year and that was their goal again. He noted Vasarhelyi should continue to improve throughout her high school career.
"We didn't qualify last year and we did this year, so that's a ton of progress," Martin said. "She was 29th at regionals last year and 10th this year. She can go even lower next year."
Both Martin and Vasarhelyi made it clear they wanted the entire girls squad at next year's meet. The Knights girls finished 10th at the regional meet, but will only lose two varsity runners in Frances Simmons and Emily Kotnik.
"We'd like to bring a team down here next year," Martin said. "Frankie was a great leader for us, but we're going to have a lot back."
"We just need to train hard," Vasarhelyi said.