CLEVELAND HEIGHTS - Warren G. Harding's girls cross country program had a first in school history - capturing a league championship.
Saturday, the Harding girls took home the Lake Erie League title with 21 points, beating out Shaw, which had 62 points.
Harding junior Leaha Zachery won the meet with 24:09.7, while teammate Tara Stano was second (24:11.6).
WGH's Danielle Myers was fourth (24:48.5), Kayla Statema was sixth (25:56.5) and Jasmine Camacho was eighth (26:32.4) to round out WGH's top five.
Coach Charles Penny said this helps kickstart the girls indoor and outdoor track and field programs by bolstering the team's distance, middle distance and giving a good base for the sprinters. But, it also shows the need for a cross country program at Harding.
"It's just because we won our school's first, we don't want it to be our last either," Penny said. "We want to continually win conference titles. We want to compete for a Suburban title. Our ultimate goal is to win a state cross country title.
"As odd as that might sound, the same thing was said when we made that same statement about track. We wanted to win a team state title in track. It's a football town. Those athletes that run cross country, it's an important sport for them. It's just like basketball is an important sport for basketball players and football is an important sport for football players. Those kids that run cross country might not be looked upon as the same in the community, but for those kids it's an important sport. Our goal is to use this as a stepping stone for the girls program, show validation and hopefully get a middle school program started."
On the boys side, host Cleveland Heights beat out Maple Heights, 41-48.
Harding junior Jesse Peyatt was fourth (19:05.0) and teammate Kyle Ritenour was 12th (20:37.7).