by Steve Batko | Correspondent
For the Streetsboro boys cross country team, the Billy Goat Invitational served two crucial things for first-year head coach Tyler Bunch's young club.
The Rockets, who captured ninth place out of 13 teams at the Aug. 24 meet in McDonald got to size up two of its league rivals and Streetsboro got to compete in one of the premiere regular season invitationals in northeast Ohio.
Streetsboro placed ninth with 298 points at the 5K Billy Goat Challenge at Woodland Park in McDonald.
McDonald won the 13-team competition with 57 points and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy edged Woodridge on a tiebreaker for second. Both teams had 62 points.
McDonald's Bobby Johnson won the race with a time of 16 minutes, 59.2 seconds.
Freshman Jake Suttell led the Rockets with a 67th-place time of 20:26.8.
Rounding out the top five were freshman Alec Bindus (74th, 20:35.7) and juniors Tyler Garman (83rd, 20:53.2), Jake Gould (89th, 21:06.6) and Tomlin Burgess (95th, 21:17.6).
The youth movement is off and running.
"This was the first official 5K for Suttell, Bindus, Jacob Fifik, Kenny Guzy and Hollis Wilson," said Bunch. "Our varsity team has four freshmen, which is impressive.
"The Billy Goat was a very challenging meet," said Bunch. "We got our first look at Woodridge and Garfield, our County Division foes in the Portage Trail Conference. It was a great start to the year. It finally gave me a look at how in shape we are.
Streetsboro's spread time was 50:08 seconds. The only team with a lower spread time was Woodridge with a 48:08.
At the Malloy Invitational, the top finisher was Garman. He ran 20th overall with a clocking of 11:11. Suttell was 24th (11:26), followed by Bindus (25th, 11:27), Burgess (26th , 11:29), Gould (27th, 11:31), Fifik (33rd, 12:08), and Guzy, who placed 36th (13:12).
Matt Kolke led Streetsboro with a 14th-place time of 13:03 in the open race.
"While I don't believe we have a solid No. 1 runner quite yet, we do have many very consistent runners," said Bunch. "I looked at the Billy Goat race as an assessment and it gave me a good idea of where we need to be by the time the PTC [Portage Trail Conference] and district meets come."
The Rockets are scheduled to run at the East Canton Invitational Aug. 28 at 4:30 p.m.
They are set to visit Marlington High School in Alliance for the Ashley White Stump Memorial Invitational Aug. 31 at 11 a.m.