Off And Running

Randolph’s McDonald Excels At Red Dragon Invitational

Hundreds of runners take off from the starting line during the girls large school race at the 11th annual Red Dragon Invitational on Saturday morning at Bemus Point Golf Club. P-J photo by Jay Young

BEMUS POINT — Lament the change from summer to fall all you like, but the scene taking place on the grounds of Bemus Point Golf Club on Saturday was certainly a sign that autumn is on th way when it comes to high school sports.

Crowds gathered and schools traveled from across the Southern Tier and beyond for the 11th annual Red Dragon Invitational cross country meet, which featured several strong finishes from area runners.

Ronan McDonald started out his junior year in style, taking home the boys small school race for Randolph in a time of 16:53, which was well ahead of second-place Diego Rey of Fredonia.

Rey clocked a 17:06 on the 5-kilometer course that covers all nine holes of the Bemus Point links, while Southwestern’s Eddie Scroxton took home fourth (17.22).

“Coming into the season I’ve just been running a lot, doing triathlons and different things to get myself in shape,” McDonald said after his new personal best time. “It destroyed my previous best time. I like this course a lot because it’s just a few hills and I’m decent and then on the downhills I just fly.”

Randolph’s Ronan McDonald took first in the boys small school race at the 11th annual Red Dragon Invitational on Saturday morning at Bemus Point Golf Club. P-J photo by Jay Young

Bryce Baglia of Falconer took sixth in that heat with a 17:25 while Dagon Bryant offered another strong finish for Southwestern in the seventh spot (17:27).

Following McDonald’s strong individual finish was Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s Kylee Odell in the girls small school heat. Thanks in large part to the success of the Red Dragon Invitational over the past several years, the event now draws runners from both Pennsylvania and Ohio. It was Bailey Roberts of Edgewood High School in Ashtabula, Ohio, who took home the girls small school race with a blistering 19:10. Odell did her best to keep pace with the leader, ultimately taking second with a 19:26 to begin her junior campaign.

“It went pretty good. I feel pretty prepared,” Odell said after grabbing the silver. “The hills are really hard but the downhill (sections) are where you kind of have to pick back up on it. It was a good time for my first 5K so, this season’s probably going to be pretty good.”

In her penultimate year with the Wolfpack, Odell is shooting for a top-five finish at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships.

Also placing high in the girls small school heat were Fredonia’s Emily Brown, who took fourth (19:52), and Southwestern’s Hannah Sullivan.

Maple Grove’s Ava Crist, left, and Christina Peppy work together during the girls large school race at the 11th annual Red Dragon Invitational on Saturday at Bemus Point Golf Club. P-J photo by Jay Young

Making a late charge to pick up a place in the last 200 meters of the race, Sullivan took seventh with a 20:42, edging out Catalena Ersing of Newfane.

“I’m most happy with how she ran the race entirely because we came in with a race plan for the first race of the season and she followed it,” Southwestern girls coach Cristin Hockenberry said. “She’s confident in what she’s doing, confident in her training so that shows at the end of the race.”

While there are plenty of folks who will not be celebrating the turn to cooler weather that this past week has brought, for cross country runners the change signals the best time of the year.

“It’s fun to start with a big meet like this, the atmosphere is great, it’s cross-country season,” Hockenberry said. “It feels like it, it looks like it, they’re on a great course, so it’s a great way to start.”

Rounding out the top-10 finishes in the girls small school category was Frewsburg’s Acacia Barber, who grabbed 10th with a 20:45.

The host Lady Red Dragons once again opted to run in the large school category as they gear up for another season that hopefully will end with a chance at a NYSPHSAA Division II team title.

Maple Grove held its own thanks to a two-three finish from Christina Peppy and Ava Crist, with the former taking second (19:35) while Crist finished just behind in third (19:37).

Sydney Nowicki of Lockport took home the individual title in that race with a clocking of 19:04.

“To run against large schools for the first race of the season is amazing and it’s quite an experience,” said Crist after helping the Lady Red Dragons finish second in the team standings behind West Seneca West. “Tina and I work really well together so it’s just awesome to have a girl that is the same pace as me. Our goal right now is to totally win states as a team. You’ve got to have a really strong top five and top seven.”

Abby Brunenavs took 16th for Maple Grove (21:15) while Hannah Tarbrake finished 31st (21:51) and Brynn Mozzi 34th (21:57).

“Last year we forgot that Maple Grove is a pack-running team, and this year that’s exactly what we did. So it was nice to see Ava and Tina work together,” Red Dragons head coach Steve Matteson said. “Our three, four and five were working together and our six and seven worked together.

“They’ve been doing workouts together every day, they’ve been there right stride-for-stride and that’s exactly what they did today,” Matteson added.

Maple Grove claimed third in the boys small school team standings with 124 points, trailing first-place Springville (108) and Newfane (112). Leading the way for the Red Dragons was 11th-place Darius Jones (17:35). Frank Colburn grabbed 14th (17:41) and Pete Auer 27th (18:27).

“It was an interesting race because some people when out very very fast, and I think that shocked a couple of people,” Matteson said. “We had a couple of guys that were very good at staying relaxed the first mile and then starting to go and pick it up the second and third mile. We had some good smart races that I was very happy with.”

NOTES: Frontier claimed the boys large school team title with 46 points, while Tom Appenheimer of Cardinal O’Hara took home that race in 16:08.53 and Drew Carlson led the way for Jamestown with an 18.23.




1. Frontier 46; 2. Clarence 74; 3. Pioneer 93; 4. Lancaster 103; 5. West Seneca West 167; 6. Lockport 180; 7. Williamsville East 214; 8. Hamburg 250; 9. Bradford (Pa.) 274; 10. Kenmore West 299; 11. Niagara Falls 319; 12. Dunkirk 325; 13. Williamsville North 373; 14. Lake Shore 407; 15. Hutch Tech 413; 16. Jamestown 425; 17. Niagara-Wheatfield 441; 18. Williamsville South 447; 19. North Tonawanda 510; 20. Depew 529; 21. City Honors 588; 22. Olean 596


1. Tom Appenheimer (CaO), 2. Armani Merlino (Lan), 3. Joshua Peron (Fro), 4. Grey Conover (Cla), 5. Drew Biegner (Cla), 6. Brian Gleason (Fro), 7. Tyler Bishop (WSW), 8. Jerad Hediger (Pio), 9. Christian Ruiz (WSW), 10. Derek Lasker (Lan). T–16:08.53



1. Springville 108; 2. Newfane 112; 3. Maple Grove 124; 4. Southwestern 139; 5. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley 162; 6. Alden 175; 7. Wilson 183; 8. Edgewood (Pa.) 226; 9. Fredonia 264; 10. Randolph 270; 11. Eisenhower (Pa.) 298; 11. Allegany-Limestone 298; 13. Akron 305; 14. Barker 325; 15. Gowanda 338; 16. Nichols 421; 17. Clymer/Sherman/Panama 447; 18. Frewsburg 454; 19. Franklinville/Ellicottville 485; 20. Cattaraugus-Little Valley 514


1. Ronan McDonald (Ran), 2. Diego Rey (Fred), 3. Brett Russell (Spr), 4. Eddie Scroxton (Sou), 5. Robert Stevenson (New), 6. Bryce Baglia (F/CV), 7. Dagon Bryant (Sou), 8. William Schwarzmueller (Wil), 9. Jared Hecht (Spr), 10. Bobby Adams (Ald). T–16:53.81




1. West Seneca West 50; 2. Maple Grove 76; 3. Clarence 87; 4. Williamsville North 124; 5. Frontier 143; 6. Lockport 208; 7. Lancaster 209; 8. Hamburg 225; 9. Niagara Falls 266; 10. Lake Shore 280; 11. Niagara-Wheatfield 307; 12. Pioneer 312; 13. Kenmore West 327; 14. Jamestown 334; 15. Olean 372; 16. Depew 414


1. Sydney Nowicki (Loc), 2. Christina Peppy (MaG), 3. Ava Crist (MaG), 4. Anna Rybczynski (WSW), 5. Chloe Fisher (Fro), 6. Allison Stainsby (WSW), 7. Kayla Schmidt (WiS), 8. Maya Lasker (Lan), 9. Sarah Mruk (WSW), 10. Makenzie Marfurt (Cla). T–19:04.42



1. Edgewood (Pa.) 51; 2. Newfane 64; 3. Clymer/Sherman/Panama 100; 4. Silver Creek 164; 5. Fredonia 204; 6. Allegany-Limestone 205; 7. Barker 208; 8. Akron 219; 9. Nichols 223; 10. Southwestern 259; 11. Olmsted 289; 12. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley 295; 13. Alden 366; 14. Gowanda 368; 15. St. Mary’s Lancaster 396; 16. Cattaraugus-Little Valley 407; 17. Eisenhower (Pa.) 414; 18. Wilson 415; 19. Randolph 470


1. Bailey Roberts (Edg), 2. Kylee Odell (C/S/P), 3. Kimberly Goerss (New), 4. Emily Brown (Fred), 5. Ellie Decker (SiC), 6. Sonya Krezmien (Spr), 7. Hannah Sullivan (Sou), 8. Catalena Ersing (New), 9. Holly Arrison (Nic), 10. Acacia Barber (Frew). T–19:10.78


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)