BOARDMAN - Howland junior Ryan Sullivan remembers all too well what he faced last season.
He and graduated senior Nate Sutton slipped and meandered with the rest of the boys Division I cross country field in a weather-beaten Boardman High School course - running in the sixth and final regional race of the day.
He and Sutton finished, but short of making the state meet.
This season, Sullivan and the D-I boys were third in a, yes, soaking rain Saturday.
The Howland junior knew the task ahead and didn't let a much better looking Boardman course slow him down.
Sullivan finished 11th, good enough to get him to state. He is the first Division I Trumbull County athlete to advance to state since Niles graduate Chris Acs did so in 1999.
Division I regional
at Boardman High School
Top four teams and top 16
individuals advance to state
TEAM SCORES: 1. Walsh Jesuit 110, 2. Mentor 114, 3. Twinsburg 130, 4. Solon 131, 5. Boardman 135, 6. Hudson 168, 7. Chardon 169, 8. Jackson 171, 9. GlenOak 197, 10. Kenston 216, 11. Eastlake North 267, 12. Hoover 296, 13. Louisville 313, 14. Nordonia 314, 15. Shaker Hts. 386, 16. Riverside 396. INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 1. Nick Elswick (Cha) 15:47.22, 2. Mark Hadley (Boa) 15:47.56, 3. Garrett Crichlow (Twi) 15:53.98, 4. Brian Brennan (WJ) 16:05.80, 5. Vince Moeglin (Hud) 16:12.24, 6. Jordan Shepherd (WJ) 16:15.45, 7. Kevin Blank (Sol) 16:18.11, 8. John Riordan (Sol) 16:19.47, 9. Kyle Mau (Hud) 16:24.57, 10. Alan Burns (Boa) 16:31.04, 11. Ryan Sullivan (How) 16:31.10, 12. Zach Humrichouser (Woo) 16:31.84, 13. Brandon Green (EN) 16:32.12, 14. Anthony Car (EN) 16:32.38, 15. Jeff Gudowicz (Men) 16:32.71, 16. Nick Schank (Twi) 16:34.13, 17. Jacob Kernell (UL) 16:43.92, 18. Grant Behnke (Sol) 16:44.02, 19. Kevin White (Woo) 16:48.14, 20. Aubrey Jordan (Cha) 16:48.66.
"Honestly, these are pretty bad conditions as we've had all year this year," Sullivan said. "Compared to last year, this is perfect. All it was was wet, not too muddy or anything. I was happy with it. Everyone had to run in it. Everyone had to face the same conditions. Whatever you do, everyone has to do it too."
The pace was set early on, very fast on a wet course.
"I came through the first mile under 5 (minutes) and that started it off," Sullivan said. "I think the most difficult part of this race is there is so many people. Normally in a cross country race you run through the woods or you're running out, there's 100 people lining up at the finish.
"There were people all around this course screaming the whole time. I couldn't hear myself breathe."
Sullivan's focus was find Boardman's Mark Hadley, who won last week's Malone College district.
"It's nice because if I'm sitting behind Mark, I'm sitting in a good position and I know I'm going to make it out," Sullivan said. "You try to find him throughout the race, look and see where I'm at and keep up with him. He's a great kid, great runner."
When Hadley hit the woods of the Boardman course - the last 1/4 mile of the 3.1-mile trek - he flashed back to his training. He trailed leader Nick Elswick of Chardon.
"Last week, I did a workout where I finished the last 1,000 meters of the course over and over again," Hadley said. "When I got to the woods, that kind of kicked in. I started going after it as hard as I could.
"Unfortunately, he had a little bit more left."
Elswick edged out Hadley at the finish by .34 seconds.
Teammate Alan Burns took 10th.
Boardman, which won its first Federal League title and captured its first district title since 1990, entered regionals with high aspirations.
Unfortunately, Boardman was five points shy of heading back to state for the first time since that 1990 season.
Walsh Jesuit beat Mentor for the team title, 110-114. Twinsburg was third (130) and Solon took fourth (131). Boardman had 135 points.
The top four teams and top 16 runners in each race advance to state at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
"It was a five-team race and unfortunately we were the odd team out," Boardman coach John Phillips said. "By no means does it take away what they've accomplished this year. My opinion and a lot of people's opinion, they're the best team in school history for what they've done."
The Spartans return six of their top seven in 2013.
"We've already set our goals," Phillips said. "We know what the plan of attack is going to be. There wasn't anybody hanging their heads. There wasn't anybody crying.
"All right, 365 days. What do we have to do tomorrow. That's the focus of this team I'm very proud of."
As for Sullivan, he's happy he's going to state.
"I'm so happy I made it," Sullivan said. "I've been blessed with talent, trying to work on it, keep working. I have great teammates that come out and support me.
"I'm just glad I made it, honestly."