Tribune Chronicle: Teams keep streaks alive

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The following article was posted in the Oct. 26, 2008 edition of the Tribune Chronicle by John Vargo (jvargo@tribtoday.com)

PLAIN TWP. - McDonald's Jerry Dugan didn't have the best week leading up to Saturday's Division III Regional boys cross country meet at GlenOak High School.

He walked around the finish line favoring his hip, but said he feels much better than he did earlier in the week.

"We were playing tag football and my one friend pushed me into the bleachers," Dugan said.

Thinking back to his 10th-place finish, it made the day much better. It led the Blue Devils to their second consecutive regional title. McDonald edged out two-time defending Division III state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, 74-78. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to next weekend's state meet at Scioto Downs in Columbus.

"I didn't care what place we got today. I just wanted to make it out and hopefully do good next week," said Dugan, whose team had qualified for state every year since 1999.

Maplewood, who has sent a team to the state cross country tournament since 1990, finished third with 109 points. East Canton was fourth (163).

"Now we're to the point where the streak started before these guys were born," Maplewood boys coach Ted Rupe said of the streak. "Even the seniors on the team are 18 years old and this is 19 years. It starts to put everything in perspective."

Junior Eric Rupe, who finished seventh overall, paced the Rockets to their third-place finish. Juniors Tom Bottorff (12th), Aaron Harrison (25th) and A.J. Grayson (41st) round out the top four places for Maplewood. Freshman Dallas Bright, who finished 45th, rounded out the Rockets' top five. The team scores are derived by taking the places of all the team runners, not individuals, competing. The Rockets' top five scored seven, 11, 22, 33 and 36 in team scoring for 109.

Maplewood freshman Morgan Hake was 76th, while senior Luke Orth was 102nd.

As much as the juniors came through, Ted Rupe praised the performance of Bright.

"I think that helped us do as well as we really did today," Ted Rupe said.

Dugan said his teammates also came through as well. Seniors Josh Lapolla was 13th and Lance Ronghi took 14th. Juniors Frank Natoli took 27th, while senior Mitchell Thornton was 36th. Sophomore Jeff Kunkel was 38th to round out the top seven. McDonald's top five scored 10, 12, 13, 16 and 23 for 74 points.

"Josh Lapolla had a good race today," Dugan said. "He came out of nowhere. We all did good today. We had a hard workout here on Monday, so some of us are still recovering from that. It felt pretty good."

Even though the pace wasn't to Dugan's liking earlier in the season. he is seeing his methodical plodding paying off.

"(McDonald boys) coach (Chris) Rupe made me take it easy a lot of the first races of the season," Dugan said. "I didn't like that, but it's paying off now.

"And he's the best coach in the state. Whatever he tells me to do, I'll do."

Too bad Chris Rupe doesn't coach tag football.


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