Christ cross

Caleb Cutright, youth shine for Rootstown Cross Country

PALMYRA TWP. – Larry Bailey joked about a curse on Saturday.

This was after the Rootstown cross-country coach saw senior Caleb Cutright cross the line just behind Mogadore senior Alejandro Navarrete, marking the fourth straight year Rovers have finished second in the Portage Championships. Trail Conference.

Of course, the “curse” stems from a blessing.

Those second-place finishes, twice from Evan Piscitani (2019, 2020) and one from Ethan Sisley (2021) and Cutright (2022), are just more testament to the strength of Bailey’s program.

Cutright has been a wonderful story for a while now, dating back to his last track and field campaign.

“He’s been our number one runner the whole time,” Bailey said. “He does a great job leading the younger guys and showing them how to run.”

His time Saturday (18.12) marked the second fastest at Southeast Middle School since the PTC Championships moved to the sun-dappled course along Tallmadge Road.

“I thought he did super well,” Bailey said. “He might have just needed to get out a bit faster, but Alejandro got away from him a bit, but he chased everyone away.”

Cutright was just one of many reasons for optimism Rovers provided on Saturday.

Another was their second-place finish in the boys’ team standings, as Rootstown finished with 48 points, behind champion Mogadore (23) but ahead of Southeast (72) and Lake Center Christian (102).

Heralding an extremely bright future, the four Rovers scorers behind Cutright Saturday were underclass.

Indeed, freshmen Brady Brown (7th, 19.01) and Wyatt Shenal (8th, 19.07) became only the second and third Rootstown ninth-graders in program history to win the all-league first-team honors, according to Bailey.

They were followed by sophomores Eric Baughman (14th/16th, 19.47) and Dylan Wilfong (17th/19th, 20.34).

Crazier still, Rovers didn’t even get their fastest signing healthy, according to Bailey, as Jacob Sturm battled a stress fracture.

“He’s been our best freshman all year, so we probably would have had three freshmen, bang, bang, bang,” Bailey said. “Then the next three after them are in second year, so we’re looking forward to next year and then you saw our middle school boys are pretty good.”

(“Pretty good” is probably an understatement after Rovers won the college title on Saturday, with six of the first 13 boys on the other side of the line.)

Bailey said he was also happy with the way Mallory Butcher (12th, 22.45) ran on the girls’ side, noting how the competition turned up against a Mogadore team with a great shot to make state and a rising Southeast team.

“Mallory did a great job,” Bailey said. “I think it’s his best time on this course, but the league is much better than last year.”

Rootstown scorers at a glance

Rootstown Boys (2nd, 48): 2. Caleb Cutright 18.12, 7. Brady Brown 19.01, 8. Wyatt Shenal 19.07, 14/16. Eric Baughman 19.47, 17/19. Dylan Wilfong 20.34

Rootstown Girls (3rd, 79): 12. Mallory Butcher 22.45, 13. Lauren Krieger 23.03, 16. Sydney Munger 23.24, 17/18. Courtney Taylor 11:40 p.m., 21/23. Hannah Crandell 24.26