Mustangs strong cross-country season recalls Medina’s big 1980’s N-O title run

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 3 December 2020 at 9:47 am

Contributed Photos – Medina’s 1985 Niagara-Orleans League champion cross-country team included, in front, Mark Colton, Joe Granchelli, Joel Messore and Paul Finger. In back are Dan Heschke, Chuck Petkus, Paul Messore, Jeff Grimes, Paul Fox, Bob Kwandrans and Coach Ed Weider.

Enjoying their best season in decades, the Medina High boys cross-country team went 5-1 during the dual meet portion of the campaign and then finished second both at the All-League meet and in the final standings to undefeated champion Newfane (12-0) finishing with a 10-2 record.

The finish was the best for Medina since the Mustangs last captured the N-O championship in 1985. That title was the fifth in six years for Coach Ed Weider’s Mustangs which went 14-0 during each of those seasons.

Individually, the Mustangs also had a very impressive run taking top honors at the N-O All-League meet six years in a row as Doug Wienke won in 1981, Steve Kenward in 1982 and 1983 and Paul Finger in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Medina claimed its first N-O title in 1980  by besting rival Albion by eight points (45-53) to win the All-League meet.

Good depth keyed the win as the Mustangs top five runners all finished in the top 15. Neil Mack was third, Pat Cassidy fifth, Jeff Hall 10th, Don Cavers 12th and Jim Gardner 15th.

During the regular season the Mustangs posted key wins over defending champion Newfane (28-29) and Albion (24-31).

The Mustangs successfully defended their N-O title in 1981 winning the All-League meet by 30 points over runner-up Newfane (54-84.

Wienke won the race as Jeff Hall was seventh and Steve Kenward ninth.

Kenward went on to win the N-O All-League meet himself in 1982 but Albion and Barker emerged as team co-champions interrupting Medina’s title run.

However, Medina rebounded strongly to reclaim the title in 1983 again winning the All-League meet by 30 points over runner-up Starpoint (38-68).

Kenward successfully defended his individual finish line as Hobie Beedon finished second and Mark Colton fourth.

The Mustangs made it two in a row by repeating as champions in 1984 taking the All-League meet by 11 points over runner-up Roy-Hart (46-57).

Finger won his first All-League meet title to lead the Mustangs as Beedon finished second and Colton fifth.

Medina made it a three-peat by capturing the 1985 title by a narrow six point margin over runner-up Roy-Hart (63-69) at the All-League meet.

Finger also repeated as the meet’s individual champion as Colton finished second.

Finger went on to win his third straight All-League meet title in 1986 but Medina’s team title run was ended by Barker.

Finger placed fifth at the Section VI meet in 1985 and third in 1986 to earn a berth to the state meet  both times.

Medina would not have another All-League meet individual champion until Daniel Heil won the race in 2016.

Cameron Castanon also claimed the title this fall to help highlight the  Mustangs most successful season in some 35 years.

This trio of runners earned a combined total of six straight N-O All-League meet  individual championships. From left, are Doug Wienke (1981), Paul Finger (1984, 1985, 1986) and Steve Kenward (1982-1983).