I don’t know what’s a-comin tomorrow
Maybe it’s trouble and sorrow
But we’ll travel the road
Sharing our load
Side by side
through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall
Just as long as we’re together
It really doesn`t matter at all
Those words, penned by Harry Woods in 1927, could perfectly describe the effort of West Holmes’ Kaili Maltarich and Triway’s Sheri Ritchey during the girls’ Middle School portion of the Wayne-Holmes Cross Country Invite Saturday, Oct. 8 at Orrville High School.
The two competitors who have waged battle several timers earlier this year went side-by-side the entire race, and it was until the very end that a winner was determined.
The two top runners went out early and built a huge lead, then set about trying to figure out a strategy that would net themselves first place.
The only trouble was, much like Woods’ tune, they remained glued to each other, running side-by side, throughout the entire race.
Thus, as the finish of the race drew near, the two entered the final 100 meters neck-and-neck. With a screaming crowd urging them on, the tore toward the finish line, still side-by-side.
Then, with less than 10 meters to go, Ritchey pulled ever-so-slightly ahead of Maltarich, and in her effort to pull even, the West Holmes seventh-grader stumbled, allowing Ritchey to pull out the win by three feet.
“That was really disappointing, especially at the end when I had that little trip,” Maltarich said. “I was really hoping to win today, but it didn’t quite happen.”
These two competitors have seen each other before, and earlier this year at the Smithville Invitational, Maltarich actually led Ritchey most of the race before Ritchey again pulled out a win with a late pass.
Maltarich took it all in stride, and said that the friendly rivalry is actually good for both of them, regardless of who wins.
“We make each other better instead of competing against each other,” Maltarich said.
The West Holmes runner had some added pressure on her on this day, with the team’s top runner, Katie Sprang, having undergone emergency appendectomy days earlier. With Sprang out, the chore of producing falls on the shoulders of Maltarich, who has always had Sprang to run with and spur her on.
“I was a little nervous before the race without Katie,” Maltarich said.
Maltarich said she has picked up cross country and enjoys the idea that it is a team sport and something she can work on all by herself.
“I enjoy it because I get to work with my teammates and yet I need to make myself better as a person,” Maltarich said.
Her goal now is to win her first middle school race, and to continue to get better with each race. It is all in preparation for what she hopes will be a cross country career in high school that will continue the excellence the program has witnessed over the past years.
“(West Holmes head coach Kevin) Beachy said he has big plans for me, so I want to keep working as hard as I can,” Maltarich said.
Perhaps she and Ritchey can continue to team up, making each other better as they run side-by-side.