Written by Scott Calhoun
Friday, 03 October 2008 15:44
The Woodmore girls cross country team may be reliant upon a number of underclassmen and first-year program coach, Mike Moreno, but don’t let the characteristics fool you.
The Lady Wildcats have already finished 13-0 in dual meets, including a full sweep of the competition in the Suburban Lakes League, and are currently ranked 12th in the latest Division III Ohio state polls.
They’re led by sophomores Lacy Nagy and Bailey Ulinksi, and junior Lynne Schroeder.
Nagy, who took 33rd in the state meet as a freshman and then placed on the D-III 3200-meter state podium at Columbus in track this past spring, is the pacesetter for the Lady Cats with a personal record time of 19:39.60 set at the recent Clay Eagles Invitational. She placed second in the combined D-II/D-III category behind only Wauseon’s Holly Baird.
Nagy is “peaking at the right time”, according to Moreno.
“Lacy is a very tough competitor,” said Moreno, who has also been the Woodmore girls track coach for the past nine years. “She always gives 100-percent, whether it’s in practice or in meets.”
Ulinski’s PR is down to 19:49, and she, too, set that mark at Clay, making her another runner find her season peak in timely fashion.
But Ulinski is frequently right behind Nagy’s heels, and Moreno loves the competition being generated between his two underclassmen aces.
“Bailey will often beat Lacy in practice and sometimes even in dual meets,” Moreno said. “It seems like Bailey usually wins on Tuesdays and Lacy on Saturdays. “It’s a good, friendly rivalry.”
Schroeder shores up a very talented trio for Moreno, and one that will return to race as a unit in 2009.
In the most definitive event of the season, the Lady Cats placed sixth out of 50 teams in the D-III varsity segment of the massive Tiffin Carnival at Columbian High School September 6.
Nagy took 10th out of 350 runners in the race with a 19:44.50 and Ulinksi 16th snagged in 19:57. Schroeder wasn’t far behind Ulinski, capturing 18th in her season PR of 19:57.71.
“Schroeder has consistently run in the low 20s since then,” Moreno said. “She is our team leader. She motivates the girls and the boys.
“Lynne sees what this team can accomplish and pushes everyone to get it going, especially the underclassmen.”
The lone senior in the Lady Cats’ typical top five is Emma Sullivan. Often Sullivan helps the team by lacing fourth in the 22:00 range.
Sophomore Angelica McCoy is trimming her time, with her PR sitting at 22:40.
“She is pushing Emma,” said Moreno.
The wildcard is sophomore Shelby Cuevas, who has struggled at times this year, but is someone Moreno feels has yet to reach her full stride.
“She is one of those late bloomers,” Moreno said. “She should and will be pushing for the fourth spot.”
The evidence shows Moreno may be right. Cuevas grabbed her personal best time at Clay, where she posted a 22:06.
With teams taking part from all over Ohio, the Carnival clearly set the tone for what type of season Woodmore would have, and the results since have reinforced it.
The Lady Cats placed fourth out of 21 teams in the Wynford Invitational at Bucyrus, runner-up in the Lakota Invitational at Terra Community College and most recently took third in the Clay invite.
This weekend the girls will get a perfect test of their late season mettle when they battle against three other ranked teams at the Fostoria Booster Invitational.
They’ll need it.
“We have very tough district and regional fields to go up against,” Moreno explained. “As long as we continue to run to our capabilities, though, I feel we should be able to make it to states.
“It won’t be easy. We’ll have to work very hard at practice and use some good strategy in the races.”
The SLL meet takes place October 11, and the Lady Cats are the favorite after sweeping the regular season dual meets and finishing ahead of SLL competition in every invite.
Beyond the season, with Nagy, Ulinski, Schroeder and Cuevas all set to return, expectations for monumental success should be even higher.
“I think this program has a great future in store over the next few seasons,” Moreno said. “Hopefully we can get some more girls coming up from the junior high to join the team.”