HEBRON — The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) held its State Cross Country Meet on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
On display were the top runners throughout the state from Divisions I-III, including the boys team from Colonel Crawford High School (DIII) and Braxton Tate, the sole qualifier from Galion (DII).
The race order went: Division III girls started the day in Hebron, followed by the Division II girls, Division I girls, Division III boys, Division II boys and the Division I boys concluded the championships Saturday afternoon.
For the second straight season, the Eagles Chad Johnson, recent commit to Iowa State University for both cross country and track, ran his way to the Division III state title.
Johnson outran Ottoville senior Brendon Siefker again this year just as he did in 2016. Last season, Chad took home the title in 15:18.4 while Siefker finished in 15:34.9. This year, Johnson crossed the finish line in 15:33.3, defeating Siefker who ran the 5k in 15:45.5.
““It was definitely a race between me and the course,” Johnson told Morrow County Sentinel sports reporter Rob Hamilton post-race. “I just wanted it to be me and my thoughts. I didn’t want to see anyone.” Johnson also noted that with weather conditions making the course a bit sloppy, he was unable to achieve a new personal best.“The course was a lot slower than I’d hoped — I was going for my PR,” he said. “But that’s alright; I got the win. My legs were kicking up mud. That’s what cross country is all about.”
Rounding out the top five in the DIII race on Saturday were: 3. Cameron Stark, Liberty Center- 15:51.0; 4. Demetrius Snellenberger, East Canton- 16:12.0 and 5. Joe Ballas, Fort Loramie- 16:12.5.
The team from East Canton won the state title in the boys Division III race, edging runner-up McDonald; 120-140.
Other team placements in the boys DIII event were: 3. Columbus Academy; 4. Leesville Fairfield; 5. Liberty Center; 6. MOUNT GILEAD; 7. Fort Loramie (‘16 champs); 8. Grandview Heights; 9. Gilmour Academy; 10. Summit Country Day; 11. New London; 12. Smithville; 13. FREDERICKTOWN; 14. Lincolnview; 15. Houston; 16. St. Henry; 17. Greenon; 18. Minster; 19. COLONEL CRAWFORD and 20. Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic.
Making the day even more special for Chad was that he was able to run in the race with his team. “I wanted to be here with my team for my last race. It’s not fun to be on the line by myself.”
Over in the Division II boys race, Galion’s Braxton Tate finished 57th of the 180 runners in the field with a time of 16:55.8.
As to be expected, Notre Dame bound Zach Kreft of Buckeye Valley earned his second straight state title in a time of 15:20.6. Kreft defeated runner-up Ryan Johnston of Lexington (15:41.9) by more than 21 seconds.
Rounding out the top five in the DII race on Saturday were: 3. Caleb Brown, Shelby- 15:56.9; 4. Kyle Johnston, Lexington- 15:59.2 and 5. Joe Spitzer, Versailles- 16:01.9.
The Lexington Minutemen would edge the Sheridan Generals for the team title; 97-101. The team from Lexington finished as the runner-up in 2016 behind Woodrige and were state champs in 2015.
Other team placements in the boys DII event were: 3. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary; 4. Woodridge; 5. Rocky River; 6. SHELBY; 7. Bay; 8. Heath; 9. BUCKEYE VALLEY; 10. Unioto; 11. Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin; 12. Jonathan Alder; 13. Van Wert; 14. Lake Catholic; 15. Madeira; 16. Brookville; 17. Eaton; 18. Watterson; 19. River View and 20. Springfield Shawnee.
In the Division I boys race, Dustin Horter from Lakota East also won his second consecutive title (15:03.5) and the Hudson Explorers claimed the team title over Hilliard Davidson after finishing as the runner-up a season ago.
The girls Division III race saw last year’s champion, the Minster Wildcats, repeating in 2017. Minster finished with an OHSAA record-low 34 points to defeat the runner-up team from MOUNT GILEAD (131). The Wildcats’ 97-point win also set the state record for largest margin of victory. Minster’s girls squad has now won 11 state cross country titles.
Emma Watcke, a sophomore at Minster won the event in a time of 18:38.4.
Rounding out the top five in the DIII race were: 2. Grace Steimle, Grand Valley- 18:52.0; 3. BAYLEE HACK, MOUNT GILEAD- 18:55.1; 4. Gwendolyn Meiring, Minster- 19:03.0 and 5. ALLISON JOHNSON, MOUNT GILEAD- 19:07.3. Special Note from the DIII race: Of the top five finishers on Saturday, only Steimle is an upperclassmen. Watcke, Hack and Meiring are sophomores and Johnson is a freshman.
Over in the Division II girls race, the girls from Lexington also claimed the team title. Lady Lex finished with 137 points to edge the runner-up from Fairfield Union (147). Lex claims the second title after finishing second last year and winning it all in 2015.
Annie Zimmer, senior from Chagrin Falls, won the race with a time of 18:13.5. Zimmer, runner-up a year ago, defeated last year’s champion, Leah Roter of Beachwood (18:17.1).
Morgan Gigandet of Troy won the Division I girls race on the day with a time of 17:30.9.
The Lady Elks of Centerville ran their way to a fourth consecutive DI state title, defeating runner-up Ursuline Academy; 122-137. Centerville’s streak is just the second time such a run has occurred in OHSAA history.