McDONALD — Coach Robin Kapalko experienced it last year.
Her Howland girls cross country team placed second at the 2018 Billy Goat Challenge, starting a special season for the Tigers’ distance runners.
There was no rest for Howland in the offseason. Plenty of mileage was logged on the streets and other venues around the township located east of Warren.
Surprising doesn’t describe a Howland team yearning for consistency this year.
The Tigers captured Saturday’s Billy Goat Challenge with a dominating 40 points as the top five Howland runners placed in the top 11.
“We had a good first showing,” Kapalko said. “Hopefully we can maintain. They’ve worked really, really hard this summer. We upped our mileage a little bit. They’re very dedicated, very consistent. It’s Week 1. Hopefully we’re still looking so good by Week 10 or so.”
That puts Howland at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds for district competition.
These Tigers showed their depth Saturday with freshman Megan Hipple taking fifth (20:59.6).
“I’m very proud of them,” Hipple said. “We’re very bonded and very supportive of each other.”
Kapalko was proud of how her freshman persevered during Saturday’s race, going from a 2- to 3-mile race a year ago when she competed as a middle school runner.
“She’s handled it very, very well,” Kapalko said. “We’ve watched how we increased her mileage. She’s very dedicated and has that drive inside that you can’t hardly teach. She’s a competitor.”
The Howland coach hopes to see that passionate drive each competitive meet this season, knowing the Tigers have to drop times throughout the season to get further than the regional in Boardman.
“They’re a very committed group,” Kapalko said. “We’ve taken our middle school program. We finally got it to our high school program where we’re equally dominating.
“We want to continue the tradition. We want to be that team like McDonald, where year after year and year you expect them to win.”
Howland took a couple steps into that conversation on Saturday.