By ROB HAMILTON
The 2015 Division III state cross country meet proved to be a banner day for Colonel Crawford sophomore Chad Johnson. The Eagle runner finished as an All-Ohioan, taking seventh place in 16:02.8. As a freshman, he finished 33rd last year.
“Going into the race, I had a goal set in my mind of finishing in the top eight,” he said. “I’m extremely happy with a top-eight finish. It matches what I placed in the 3200 in track.”
While Johnson was surprised at the fast pace set, he was able to adjust and fight his way to a spot on the podium.
“I got out fast from the start,” he said. “I just kind of stuck with it and just fought through the pain.”
He now is hoping to take his seventh-place finish and use it as a foundation to build upon next year.
“Next year, I want to come back and do better,” he said. “I’m going for a top-three finish.”
Johnson ran at the state meet with his Colonel Crawford team, which nearly matched last year’s eighth-place finish, coming in ninth with 206 points. The Eagles tied Leesburg Fairfield with 206 points, but that team earned eighth due to the placement of their sixth runner.
Brad Bauer ran 79th in 17:17.6 for the Eagles, while Nick Studer was 84th in 17:22.6 and Brandon Long placed 103rd in 17:44.4. Also, Wade Hopkins was 106th in 17:51.1, Braxton James ran 150th in 19:57.8 and Brandon Bauer took 155th in 21:01.3.
In the Division III girls’ race, Northmor finished 14th as a team, tabbing 319 points. It was the team’s first trip to the state meet as a full squad since 2010, a fact which pleased head coach Mark Yaussy.
“It’s been four years since we’ve had a team here,” he said. “It’s always great to finish your season at the state meet. To finish here is a big accomplishment. Hopefully, this will start the ball rolling where we have consecutive state appearances.”
Kristen Duryea paced Northmor by finishing 40th in 19:53.1. Samantha Peters placed 88th in 20:54.7 and Isabelle Ditullio took 101st in 21:14.6. Selena Cortez ran 109th in 21:39, while Reanne McDonald took 117th in 22:12.2, Brooke Bennett placed 118th in 22:12.3 and Sydney Jennette claimed 125th in 22:33.8.
While Yaussy will graduate Ditullio and McDonald, he returns five of his top seven next year and is expecting some high-quality junior high runners to bolster the ranks, giving him high hopes for more trips to state.
“We have three juniors, one sophomore and one freshmen coming back,” he said. “And we’ll have some very good incoming freshmen who will certainly help. Every year, this is the expectation for Northmor cross country — to finish the year at state.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS