VAN WERT - Minster’s Dominic Slonkosy took control of the small-school boys race during the Van Wert County Hospital Invitational early Saturday morning at the Van Wert Hospital - jumping out to an early leading and holding on over halfway through. It was Columbus Grove’s Jake Graham, however, who was first when the runners turned the final corner and held off Slonkosky down the home stretch for a first-place finish in 16:24.
Graham’s finish helped pace the Bulldogs to a second-place finish overall with 63 points. Minster took first with 42 points and Lincolnview placed third with 107. Kalida placed 14th in the 15-team field, with 350 points, and Ottoville placed 15th with 423.
Alex Shafer took fifth place for the Bulldogs (16:53), good for second on the team. Also scoring for Grove were: Colton Grothaus (10th, 17:13), Grant Schroeder (19th, 17:36), and Jerry Kesselmeyer (28th, 18:00).
Nick Schmiesing (30th, 18:10) and Logan Douglas (31st, 18:11) just missed scoring for the Bulldogs in the 178-runner field.
Bayley Tow paced the third-place Lancers with an 11th-place finish in 17:15. Tow was just behind Crestview’s Mycah Grandstaff, who came in eighth in 17:08.
Also part of the Lincolnview pack were: Ben Bilimek (14th, 17:30), Jeff Jacomet (22nd, 17:44), Alex Rodriguez (23rd, 17:50) and Skyler Whitaker (38th, 18:25).
“On the guys side, we were extremely happy to see how we placed. It was an extremely competitive race in our division. We’ve seen Columbus Grove and Minster all year. Minster obviously was very strong and that was probably as close to Grove as we’ve been all year,” said Lincolnview coach Matt Langdon.
Grant Zeller paced Kalida with a 55th-place finish in a time of 18:41. Also scoring for the Wildcats were: Alex VonderEmbse (65th, 19:09), Eric Warnecke (82nd, 19:32), Jacob Dunn (88th, 19:41) and Trevor Maag (146th, 22:06)
Ottoville was led by Luke Schimmoeller, who placed 63rd in a time of 19:07. Schimmoeller was followed by: Ryan Kimmet (112th, 20:28), Mark Waldick (132nd, 21:10), John Landwehr (137th, 21:29) and Andy Horstman (151st, 22:27).
St. John’s was topped by Curtis Pohlman (18:30), Aaron Hellman (21:36) and Anthony Hale 21:49.
In the small-school girls race, Kalida placed three runners in the top 13 but only managed a fourth-place finish with 136 points. Minster narrowly missed a clean sweep, placing runners first, second, third, fifth and sixth en route to a dominating 17-point, first-place finish.
Spencerville took second with 105, Edgerton placed third with 128, Columbus Grove earned sixth place with 181 points and Ottoville failed to field a full team and did not place.
Jessica Doepker placed eighth in a time of 20:29 to lead the Lady Wildcats. She was followed closely by teammates Jackie Gardner (11th, 20:43) And Katelyn Siebeneck (13th, 20:52). Also scoring for Kalida were Katie Schmitz (60th, 23:59) and Becca Brinkman (76th, 24:47.
Alexis Ricker led the sixth-place Bulldogs with a 20th-place finish in a time of 21:27. Megan Langhals was close behind with a 27th-place finish in 21:45. Rounding out the top five for Columbus Grove were: Kayla Parlette (55th, 23:25), Mackenzie Wurth (63rd, 24:17), and Sienna Gerdeman (75th, 24:45).
Linnea Stephens (81st, 25:18), Morgan Messer (83rd, 25:21), Lindsay Langhals (84th, 25:28), Brooke Schnipke (88th, 25:36) and Melissa Amstutz (91st, 25:43) made up the second pack of Lady Bulldogs runners, who just missed the team’s top five.
Elizabeth Luersman led a pair of Lady Green runners in the race, placing 73rd in 24:44. Kara Hoersten placed 108th for Ottoville in a time of 27:22.
Megan Joseph led the way for three Lady Blue Jays with a time of 21:45 (season-best), along with Anna Mueller (23:20) and Teresa Pohlman (25:38).
Van Wert won the big-school boys race with a score of 55 despite missing their number-three runner, Connor Holliday, with illness, followed by Coldwater (71) and Wauseon (103).
“On both sides, I thought we performed very well. On the guys side, obviously walking away with a win. We didn’t expect it to be handed to us and Coldwater gave us a great race,” Van Wert coach Brendon Moody said.
The senior duo of Jared Fleming (16:20) and Kase Schalois (16:35) took first and second place, respectively, to lead Van Wert. Jordan Butler took Holliday’s usual spot at third, with a 14th-place time of 17:12.
Connor Schaffer took 18th for Van Wert in 17:33 and Nick Keber rounded out the scoring with a 20th-place finish in 17:37. Just missing the top five for Van Wert were: Cade Fleming (23rd, 17:45), Daniel Perry (24th, 17:48), Spencer Prichard (27th, 17:53), Eric Easley (32nd, 18:07) and Ryan Rice (34th, 18:12).
Joel Genter led the host Knights with a third-place finish in 16:40.
“Joel has been running really consistent here lately and at a high level. He ran a smart race. I haven’t had a chance to look exactly at the splits but I think he had a really evenly-split race. He just kept working his way through,” said Crestview coach Jeff Bagley.
Behind Genter and Grandstaff for the Knights were: Shelby Ripley (17th, 17:35), Copsey Bogle (34th, 18:15) and Branden Clayton (61st, 18:57). Tanner Skelton (62nd, 18:59) and Bryce Richardson (69th, 19:15) just missed the Crestview top five.
The Van Wert Lady Cougars placed third in the big-school girls race, despite missing senior captains Jacey Eikenberry and Kelsey Wagner.
“Both of our senior captains sat out due to injury and illness... We came away third. Wauseon was within 14 points of us. Knowing that they went to state last year and for us to run that close to them with a really underclassman-led squad, that gives us confidence,” said Moody.
Coldwater took the big-school girls title with 40 points, Wauseon was second with 77 and Van Wert had 91.
The Lady Cougars were led by a third-place finish from Andi Foster (19:30). Chloee Gamble placed 10th in 20:50 and Shealissa Williams took 13th in 21:06. Meghan Barnhart (27th, 21:48) and Allisha Danylchuk (42nd, 22:23) rounded out the Van Wert field.
The Crestview Lady Knights placed eighth in the 13-team small-school field.
“They continue to work at it. Their attitude remains good. They’re just trying to get a little bit better each day,” Bagley added.
Crestview was led by Courtney Perrott, who placed 21st in 21:35. Also scoring for the Lady Knights were: Chelsea Hancock (54th, 23:52), Halie Finfrock (59th, 23:52), Janelle May (64th, 24:20) and Cora Finfrock (107th, 27:16).
Lincolnview did not field a full team on the girls side but Langdon said they are coming close.
“We are close to being able to field a full team. Our top girl had been sick all week, so we rested her. We hope this next weekend to have all five girls for the first time all season. We’re really looking forward to that. It really raises their spirits to know they are going to score as a team,” he added.
The Lady Lancers were led by Taylor Miller, who placed 62nd in 24:04. Mikinzie Dull (117th, 29:20), Madie Enyart (125th, 32:52) and Fern Vangvichien (126th, 35:06) rounded out the rotation.
Crestview is in a 3-way meet Tuesday at Faurot Park (4:30 p.m.); St. John’s is in the Kalida Invitational, Spencerville at the Botkins invite and Lincolnview in the Edgerton meet, all 9 a.m. Saturday. Van Wert treks to Otsego, Mich., for a meet TBA.