HEBRON — Colonel Crawford junior Chad Johnson won the Division III state championship Saturday at the state cross country meet at National Trails Raceway in Hebron.
The Eagles’ junior standout posted a time of 15:18.3 to win by more than 16 seconds over second-place runner Brendon Seifker, of Ottoville.
Johnson was seventh last year and wasted little time in moving up the podium all the way to the top.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said. “I felt amazing. I didn’t think I’d feel this good.”
Johnson’s goal was to win. The outstanding race he ran was icing on the cake for him.
“Overall, I just wanted to win,” he said. “This is great, perfect. It’s exactly what I wanted. The crowd was amazing. Their roar brings you through the finish.”
The state championship caps an amazing season by Johnson.
“I’ve been under 16 minutes every single race,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine anything better.”
Colonel Crawford seniors Brad Bauer and Nick Studer also ran for the Eagles. Studer was the 43rd person across the finish line, in 16:44.9. Bauer was 85th, in 17:13.9
Mount Gilead’s Austin Hallabrin was sixth overall, with a time of 16:00.6, and Casey White was 15th, in 16:16.7, leading the Indians to a 5th-place finish in the Division III team standings. Also running for the Indians were Liam Dennis (61st, 16:59.9); Nick Weiss (82nd, 17:12.7); Kyle White (146th, 18:01.9); Mount Gilead (152nd, 18:06.1) and Brandon Stevens (152nd ,18:06.1).
Bucyrus’ Carson Pirnstill, in 17:08.4, was the 73rd runner across the finish line in the field of 188 runners.
In the Division III girls race, Northmor placed 13th as a team. Mount Gilead was 15th. Fredericktown was 12th.
Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan won the race, in 18:01.8.
Northmor was paced by Kristen Duryea, the 53rd runner of 138 across the finish line, in 19:49.7.
“It was very intense,” she said of the race. “There were lots of really fast runners. I think everyone on our team ran their hearts out.”
Duryea, a senior, also ran in the state meet last year, when the Knights took 14th place.
“I think the expectations were higher this year,” she said. “It was a little different experience being with this team. The freshmen worked really hard.”
Duryea battled injuries throughout the season, but was able to finish the season strong — a fact that made her happy.
“I felt pretty good,” she said. “I think the race went as well as it could have. I’ve been injured this year and my hip was bothering me, but I was happy with how I ran. I got back almost to where I was last year.”
Also running for the Knights were Jessica Duryea (90th, 20:26.2); Samantha Peters (99th, 20:35.4); Maddie Jordan (109th, 20:47.5); Julianna Ditullio (138th, 21:34.9); Maria Lee (144th, 21:48.3); and Brooke Bennett (168th, 22:43.7)
Colonel Crawford’s Anna Reffey was 65th, with a time of 19:59.5.
Mount Gilead was led by Baylee Hack, who was the 43rd runner across the finish line, in 19:40.8. She was joined by teammates Hannah Bush (76th, 20:08.07); Darcy Picker (111th, 20:51.1); Madison Fitzpatrick (140th, 21:40.9); Bridgette Millisor (147th, 21:55.6); Micah James (153rd, 22:07.1) and Makayla Weaver (175th, 23:09.0)