Grandview Heights Roundup: Derek Amicon seeking state title repeat

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Senior Derek Amicon returns to lead the Grandview Heights boys cross country team after winning the Division III state championship last season.

Grandview Heights senior Derek Amicon has found some new motivation as he pursues a second consecutive Division III state boys cross country championship.

Not only has the meet been moved to a new course, but the competition will be chasing Amicon as much as the title.

"That's something I have been thinking about," said Amicon, who won last year's race in 15 minutes, 42.5 seconds at National Trail Raceway. "I think five of the top eight kids were juniors last year, so they'll be back.

"(Fredericktown's) Thomas Caputo (who was sixth in 16:09.5) is back and he's doing really well. They are all going to be up there and it will be a tight race. Having it on a new course (at Fortress Obetz), there's some motivation for me to win it on that one as well. Hopefully I'll have the adrenaline I had last year."

Coach Chris Szabo said Amicon is driven to make another statement after sweeping the postseason championships a year ago. Amicon set Grandview's program record of 15:36.6 while winning district and then won regional in 15:50.2.

"It's definitely different defending a championship than chasing one," Szabo said. "Derek is excited about making the adjustment to that. He wants to leave his legacy, and he can set the bar for all the kids who are coming into the program afterward."

Amicon leads a group that includes veteran and young runners.

In the opening Canal Winchester Invitational on Sept. 2, Amicon won in 15:57.2 and was followed by a pair of freshmen in Denison Murphy (fifth, 17:00.8) and Noah Curfman (15th, 18:04.5). Junior Ian Matney (37th, 19:36.3), sophomore Alasdair Schlesinger (50th, 20:36.0), senior P.J. Tingler (58th, 21:07.3) and senior Brady Long (65th, 21:49.8) also competed.

"We have good depth, and we have quite a bit of talent," said Szabo, who is in her sixth season. "Derek as state champ, and we have two freshmen boys in Noah Curfman and Denison Murphy. Both of them ran a lot in the offseason, they have looked good early and have a bright future."

The Bobcats finished fourth (90 points) of nine teams at Canal Winchester behind the champion and host Indians (45).

Sophomore Nathan Reese and freshman Brendan Bor-kowski round out the boys roster.

The girls team is led by freshman Madeline Palmisciano, who won the Canal Winchester race in 19:08.9 and said it's been an easy transition from middle school.

"We definitely work harder during practice and because we do that, the longer distance during the meet doesn't matter that much," she said. "We run 5K in high school. We do an eight-mile-long run once every week so it makes it easy."

Szabo has been impressed by Palmisciano's effort.

"Maddie was in shape when she came in and ready for the season to begin," Szabo said. "We're happy she has been able to handle the workload."

The Bobcats finished fourth (77) of 10 teams at Canal Winchester behind champion New Albany (47).

Sophomore Greta Tew was ninth (21:19.1), followed by junior Nina Brown (11th, 21:22.9), freshman Jillian Curfman (25th, 22:19.9), junior Sosi Mahdasian (38th, 22:55.3) and freshman Eleanor Kukura (63rd, 24:32.2).

Freshman Magnolia Evans rounds out the girls roster.

"No. 1, we're just happy we're having a season; we're ecstatic about that," Szabo said. "They have sourced so hard and really held their own."

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@ThisWeekHennen

At a glance

CROSS COUNTRY

*Coach: Chris Szabo, sixth season

*Top runners: Boys -- Derek Amicon, Noah Curfman, Ian Matney and Denison Murphy; Girls -- Nina Brown, Jillian Curfman, Madeline Palmisciano and Greta Tew

*Key losses: Boys -- Chris Miller and Josh Roemer; Girls -- Liza DeVere, Emmalyn Kukura, Jenna Richards and Amelia Sturbois

*2019 MSL-Ohio standings: Boys -- Bexley (39), Buckeye Valley (63), Columbus Academy (66), Grandview (105), Whitehall (118), Worthington Christian (143), Wellington (214); Girls -- Bexley (31), Buckeye Valley (44), Grandview (92), Academy (109), Columbus School for Girls (126), Worthington Christian (133)

*2019 postseason: Boys -- Fourth at district; Girls -- Sixth at district, seventh at regional