VERNON — The flowing hair and the anguish in each facial expression were visible as the girls in orange tank tops and black shorts passed through the last 50 meters before the finish line.
Each Howland girls cross country runner made those final steps toward the end where they stepped on a mat and heard a beep. The electronic chip tied to one shoelace emitted a sound signaling the 3.1-mile trek behind Badger High School and the adjoining woods was over.
Mud splashed and each step soon became heavier than the next as misting rain and course conditions took something from every competitor.
Tigers girls coach Robin Kapalko saw her grouping of runners overcome everything Mother Nature provided, running in packs and finishing seven points ahead of McDonald for the school’s first-ever girls varsity Trumbull County cross country title, 60-67. Maplewood (87), Lakeview (94) and Mineral Ridge (122) rounded out the top five.
“Very happy with how they raced,” Kapalko said.
The All-American Conference is an OHSAA-sanctioned league, created in 2008 as the result of the merger between the Trumbull Athletic Conference and the Metro Athletic Conference in Ohio. The league has 21 different member schools, with 17 sports offered throughout fall, winter and spring sports seasons.