NORTH ROBINSON — The fall sports season soon ends for area athletes. For a few teams however, including the Colonel Crawford and Northmor cross country teams, the season is just starting to really heat up.
They will hit courses in regional meets in hopes of making it to the state meet in Hebron on Nov. 5.
The Eagles will be running in Tiffin on Saturday, at Hedges Boyer Park. The boys squad enters the race ranked 11th in the most recent state poll, while the girls find themselves unranked. In Tiffin, the top seven teams will qualify for state and the top 28 finishers individually will also punch their tickets to Hebron.
Last season, the girls team from Crawford finished third in their district meet to grab a team bid for regionals. Regionals is where their season ended as they finished ninth as a team. This season, the Eagles finished fourth in the district to continue their season. The boys team from Crawford will enter the regionals after finishing second in the district meet. Chad Johnson was the overall boys winner and looks to continue his season with another push toward state. In 2015, Johnson finished fourth in the regional meet and seventh at state. The boys team also finished fourth last season to qualify for state, where they finished ninth overall.
“Thus far, both boys and girls teams have had their share of successes,” said Eagles coach Jody Grove. “We are excited to get both teams to regionals again. The tradition these athletes are establishing when it comes to (making the) post-season is going to help in the future for athletes who are considering running cross country.
“Both teams are going to have to have their best races in order to advance. They are ready for Saturday and eager to race.”
The Northmor Golden Knights will be in Pickerington on Saturday. The Northmor girls will enter competition ranked sixth in the state poll, with the boys unranked. To advance in Pickerington, the Knights’ must find themselves individually in the top 20 of the race or finish within the top five as a team.
The boys season ended last year in districts competition as no one qualified regionals. This year at districts, the boys grabbed third place. The Knights’ girls team finished third last year to move on to the state meet. Northmor came back even stronger this season and won their district meet. Kristen Duryea looks to come back strong again this season after being the top finisher last year for Northmor. Duryea was sixth overall at regionals and 40th at the state meet. At the state competition, the Knights were 14th.
Mark Yaussy, coach of the girls team from Northmor provided some outlook for this weekend.
“Our team has been riddled with injury for most of the year,” he said. “However, we are finally healthy. The teams to beat at the regional are a very tough and competitive Fredericktown team. Mount Gilead is always tough at the big meets, as well.
“We are looking to improve this weekend and hopefully remain healthy so we can compete at the state meet,” he said.
As for the boys?
“We were excited and looking forward to competing Saturday,” said coach Kevin Ruhl. “We seem to be peaking at the right time. Most of the boys have run their best times of the year in the last two meets. It’s going to be difficult to qualify for the state meet, but it’s not earned on paper based off of prior meets.
“We have to run our best to even have any shot,” he said.