|Bulldog, Lancer boys lead local State CC qualifiers|
|Monday, October 28, 2013 12:00 AM|
TIFFIN — One year ago, the Lincolnview boys cross country team left the regional meet at Tiffin’s Hedges-Boyer Park disappointed as a fifth-place finish ended their season.
After Saturday’s run at the regional meet, the Lancer boys once again had that look of disappointment leaving the finish line. That was until the official results were posted a few minutes later.
When the official results of the boys Division III boys race was released, the Lancers found themselves sitting in third place, earning them a trip to the state tournament this Saturday in Hebron.
The Lancer boys were not the only local teams to advance as the Columbus Grove boys advanced in Division III, as well as Crestview’s Mycah Grandstaff.
In the Division II races, the Van Wert boys and girls cross country teams advanced.
Several other local runners were unable to advance Saturday.
The state cross country meet will be at National Trail Raceway in Hebron Saturday. The Division II girls run at 11:45 a.m. while the Division III boys race is at 1:30 p.m. and the boys Division II race at 2:15 p.m.
After finishing their race Saturday, the Lancer boys left the finish area with heads hanging feeling they would fall short for a second straight year of making state. As fans and runners made their way to the awards area, the frowns quickly turned into shouts of joy as the Lancers saw they finished third as a team, giving them a trip to state.
The Lancers had 146 points, 17 points in front of fourth-place St. Henry with 163. Liberty Center won the regional title with 78 points and Columbus Grove was second with 106 points.
“Today we wanted to improve that one spot from last year,” Lancer coach Matt Langdon said. “It was an unbelievable team race. Our top kid didn’t run the way he wanted but everyone else just stepped it up. I’m kind of speechless; we were not expecting this result.”
Lincolnview wasn’t sure about its finish as junior Bayley Tow had an off day, finishing 27th in 17:13.45. His teammates helped make up for it as Alex Rodriguez was 14th in 16:45.23 and Ben Bilimek was 37th in 17:22.13. Travis Lippi finished 50th in 17:37.47 and Trevor Neate was 64th in 17:52.44.
“Bayley just got a little fatigued the last part of the race,” Langdon said. “Alex caught up to him and was our lead runner but give Bayley credit. A lot of runners may have fallen back even more but he hung there and his finish was key to us getting out. Our other kids all had a personal best today. It’s a cool story because Bayley didn’t make it on his own but he gets to go with the team. That just blows my mind because if you had asked me that question the other day, I wouldn’t have thought that way.”
Another coach that felt that way Saturday was Columbus Grove’s Terry Schnipke. Last season, when everyone knew he had a strong team, the Bulldogs finished fourth at the regional. After having to replace his top two runners from that team, the Bulldogs turned in a solid effort as they finished second.
“Last year we were supposed to be such a good team and we finished not having run very well,” Schnipke said. “This year we come here, get second and a trophy. I never would have expected this when the season started. These guys have worked hard all year. This is just a blessing.”
The Bulldogs were led by junior standout Colin Grothaus as he finished fifth in 16:29.78. Logan Douglas finished 23rd in 17:05.12, while Jerry Kesselmayer was 28th in 17:17.23, Lee Altenburger was 42nd in 17:26.04 and Bryce Sharrits was 46th in 17:35.98.
“The biggest difference between now and the end of the season, on paper, is Jerry Kesselmayer, who ran really great last year and has struggled some this year with his time; he is now back to where he should be,” Schnipke said of the team’s recent success. “Lee Altenburger has had problems with shin splints off and on and now he is healthy and running really well. I wouldn’t have thought we would have five guys in the 16s and 17s but we did and that is great.”
Crestview finished eighth as a team in the 16-team field but managed to see the Grandstaff advance as he finished seventh in 16:32.88. Making state caps off an up-and-down season for the Knight junior, who battled an injury early in the season.
“I think I’m running my best right now,” Grandstaff said. “I have one more week left and I want to go down to Hebron and try to run another PR. It’s just fun going down there.”
Grandstaff said the key Saturday was trying to stay with the lead pack and not use a lot of energy running where runners were forced to run into a strong wind.
“My strategy was trying to stay up with the lead pack,” Grandstaff said. “There were a lot of people that were sub-17 (minutes) and I tried to stay with the top people and hope we would pull away. Going into the wind I just wanted to draft off the people in front of me and that helped me out a lot.”
St. John’s sophomore Curtis Pohlman finished 85th on Saturday in 18:09.21.
Van Wert’s cross country teams made a bit of school history Saturday as they both qualified to state in the same year for the first time.
The Cougar boys were the runners-up in the Division II race to Defiance with 104 points, while the Lady Cougars were fourth in the Division II race with 161 points, six points in front of Bellevue and Napoleon.
“We’ve had a lot of good teams in the past and just weren’t able to put it together before,” Van Wert coach Brendon Moody said. “We are just overwhelmed right now. The girls are a pleasant surprise as we knew we had an outside shot coming in. The guys just keep doing what they do best and that’s get to the front of the race and finish it out.”
The Lady Cougars were led by senior Andi Foster with a 16th-place finish in 19:47.6, while senior Amanda Clay was 18th in 19:55.84. Junior Schealissa William was 24th in 20:07.55, while sophomore Chloe Gamble was 45th in 20:40.71 and sophomore Megan Barnhart was 69th in 21:20.2.
“We knew our top four girls had to perform really well today,” Moody said. “We had three girls in the top 25 and our fourth one was right there. Our fifth girl ran a season-best time. They did what they had to do. We are extremely excited for them right now.”
Junior Connor Holliday led the Cougar boys as he finished seventh in 16:23.37. Fellow juniors Connor Shaffer (16:47.13) and Daniel Perry (16:50.21) finished 17th and 18th, respectively, while junior Jordan Butler was 32nd in 17:09.12 and sophomore Cade Fleming was 46th in 17:24.83.
Moody said one key for the boys was feeding off the disappointment from 2012 when they finished fifth as a team, just missing state.
“I think the boys had a chip on their shoulders today,” Moody said. “These guys are self-driven, they are a self-motivated kind of group. We conjured that (fifth place) up Friday and we wanted to draw on that disgust, anguish and anger they had last year leaving here. I think they had something to prove and they went out and did that. Last year we came here wanting to be in the top four and this year we came in here wanting to win the regional and that makes a big difference.”
In the girls Division III race, no local runners advanced as Kalida’s Katelyn Siebeneck just missed getting out as she finished 19th in 20:16.49. St. John’s senior Megan Joseph was 27th in 20:33.16.
“I knew going in that Megan and Curtis needed to run very good races to have a shot to qualify for state,” Jays’ coach Steve Hellman noted. “They ran good races but did not quite have it today. They had to fight the wind and the cold that we have not had all fall to practice or race in and that can affect each runner different. I had hoped Megan could make it but she still had a very good high school career.”
Spencerville finished sixth in the team standings as they were led by senior Karri Purdy in 22nd place in 20:24.46. Junior Cierra Adams was 35th in 20:51.66 and senior Tori Hardesty was 45th in 21:23.16.
“Our girls ran good,” Spencerville coach Brian McMichael said. “They got out in good shape that first mile and were where they needed to be but there were a lot of good teams out there today. We had three or four of the top teams in the state and we were among the rest of them. We ran hard and the girls ran good with one PR today.”
Elida’s Alyssa Turrentine was 27th in the Division II girls race (20:10.86).