Aug. 30—Many distance runners begin training months before the cross country season officially starts.
The goal for many of these athletes is to compete at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state meet on the first Saturday of November at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park.
This past weekend, many area cross country teams competed at various invitationals to kick off the 2023 campaign.
In 2022, there were many area athletes and teams that made deep postseason runs. These same athletes and programs will certainly want to at least do as well, if not better this fall.
Ottawa-Glandorf is one of those programs poised for big things in the postseason.
Last season, the Ottawa-Glandorf girls' and boys' teams competed at the Division II state meet. The O-G girls' team placed sixth, while its counterparts came in 16th.
At this past Saturday's Defiance Early Bird Open, the Ottawa-Glandorf girls won the team title by a huge margin over second-place Sylvania Northview, 39-110.
O-G placed its five scorers in the top 16 overall spots. Senior Madelyn Hovest (19:33.75) and junior Anna Buddelmeyer (19:50.84) finished second and third, respectively.
Corinne Closson (seventh, 20:51.91), Brea Recker (14th, 21:36.31) and Rose Turnwald (16th, 21:42.56) rounded out the top five runners for O-G.
On the boys' side at the Defiance Early Bird Open, O-G finished second, behind Sylvania Northview, 29-87.
O-G junior Ty Rosengarten placed third in 16:28.53.
Rounding out the remainder of O-G's scorers Saturday were Cooper Fischer (16th, 17:45.69), Isaac Macke (17th, 17:47.91), Jordan Croy (22nd, 18:13.91) and Brandon Frey (34th, 18:36.88).
Defiance placed fourth as a team in the boys' race out of 17 squads, while the girls' team also came in fourth (14 full squads).
Van Wert, Bath looking strong
At this past Saturday's Delphos St. John's Blue Jay Invitational at Stadium Park, Van Wert defeated Bath for the boys' team title, 30-55 in a field of 13 teams.
Van Wert placed its five scorers in the top 15 overall spots.
Last season, Bath competed in the Division II state meet, where it placed 19th. Van Wert, however, just missed getting out of last year's Tiffin regional.
Van Wert junior Owen Scott won the boys' race at the Blue Jay Invite with a time of 15:07.74. It was later confirmed the course at Delphos Stadium Park was around a quarter-mile short of the normal 5,000-meter distance the athletes normally race. Bath junior Jacob Wireman finished 25 seconds behind Scott on Saturday.
Rounding out Van Wert's five scorers Saturday included Drew Laudick (fourth, 16:03), John Kramer (fifth, 16:31.43), Rylan Miller (eighth, 16:37.87) and Harrison Sloan (15th, 17:28.62).
Behind Wireman, teammates Landen Jones (sixth, 16:31.93), Everett Bensman (ninth, 16:40.22), Jaden Ryan (19th, 17:38.18) and Jonah Volbert (25th, 17:55.12) rounded out Bath's scorers.
Van Wert head coach Kim Laudick is optimistic about her team's chances to make it to the state meet this season, especially on the boys' side.
"We're really excited about this year. We didn't lose anybody from last year; and we gained a couple underclassmen," Laudick said. "So, coming into this season, we are back stronger, and looking forward to really pushing the button. Our boys, especially, are physically and mentally very strong; and they are dialed in."
On the girls' side of the Blue Jay Invite, Kenton won the team title with 36 points. St. John's came in a distant second with 79 points, while Van Wert was third (83).
Anna senior Paige Steinke, who won last year's Division III state cross country title, won the race on the shortened course at the Blue Jay Invite in 17:57.52. Kenton sophomore Addi Manns came in second (18:30.51).
Steinke is hoping to wrap up her illustrious high school career with another state title. Manns, who did not qualify for the Division II state meet last season, is hoping to notch a state berth later this fall.
Grove hoping for return to state
When it comes to postseason success in cross country, Columbus Grove is a program that seems to continually add to its impressive resume every year.
Last season, the Columbus Grove boys' team placed sixth at the Division III state meet.
At this past weekend's Celina Rotary Invitational, the Bulldogs kicked off the 2023 campaign on a strong note by taking first place out of seven teams in the small school division. Columbus Grove defeated second-place Marion Local 45-60.
Columbus Grove senior Luke Ellerbrock won the race on a very challenging 5,000-meter course at the Wright State-Lake Campus in 16:42.81.
Columbus Grove's tight pack of runners proved to be the difference on Saturday. Evan Pitts (third, 17:31.82), Bryce Bonifas (ninth, 18:19.81), Braylon Best (13th, 18:36.07) and Levi Bryan (19th, 18:53.14) rounded out the scorers for the Bulldogs.
On the girls' side at the Celina Rotary Invite, Columbus Grove placed third out of five teams. Columbus Grove sophomore Lily Montgomery led the way for the Bulldogs, finishing third (21:49.73).
In the large school division at the Celina Rotary Invite, Celina sophomore Colin Buening, a 2022 Division II state-qualifier, finished third (17:11.51).
Lincolnview starts strong
Lincolnview is coming off a very successful 2022 season, in which the boys' squad placed 15th at the Division III state meet.
At this past Saturday's Eastwood — Darin Goodman Night Meet, both the Lincolnview boys' and girls' teams placed fourth. There were 14 teams in the boys' race and 12 full squads on the girls' side.
On the girls' side, sophomore Brynleigh Moody, a state-qualifier in 2022, led the Lancers Saturday with a seventh-place finish (20:02.73). Teammate Ava Milligan was nearby with a 10th-place performance (20:31.28). Conner Baldauf led the Lincolnview boys with a ninth-place finish (16:52.10).
Minster chasing three-peat
Over the years, the Minster girls have nearly dominated the Division III competition.
Last season, Minster won its second consecutive state title. In its school history, the Minster girls' program has notched 15 team state championships in cross country.
This fall, Minster will be gunning for its third consecutive state title. The Wildcats graduated just one runner off last year's state championship team.
The Minster girls took first out of 19 teams at this past weekend's Bob Schul Invitational in West Milton. Senior Margaret Hemmelgarn led Minster with a third-place finish (19:48.60).
On the boys' side at the Bob Schul Invite, Minster placed fifth out of 25 teams. Seniors Jack Grieshop (fourth, 17:11.20) and Ryan Halpin (fifth, 17:11.30) led the Wildcats.
Also, at the Bob Schul Invite, in the large school race, Shawnee senior Noah Williams, a Division I state-qualifier in 2022, finished second overall (16:09.90). As a team, Shawnee placed eighth out of 19 teams.
Wapakoneta's Axton Fosnaugh placed fourth (16:17.60). As a team, Wapakoneta came in 11th.
On the girls' side, Wapakoneta freshman Kenzie Schneider finished ninth (21:10.10) to record the best area finish. As a team, Wapakoneta came in fifth.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.