With the exception of one mild upset, things ran pretty much as expected under the cold, rainy conditions Saturday at Pearson Park, where the St. John’s Jesuit and Ashland boys, and the Perrysburg and Clay girls, each ran to Division I district cross country team titles.
The upset came from St. John’s, which had placed second to rival St. Francis de Sales in last week’s Three Rivers Athletic Conference meet in Fremont.
Paced by the individual champion, junior Tevin Brown, who covered the muddy and slippery 5,000-meter course in 15:58.2, the Titans turned the tables on St. Francis, edging the Knights 61-66 for the District 2 team title.
Brown, the TRAC champion, had missed district competition because of injuries in his first two years on the Titans varsity.
“I was just happy to get across the line at my first district meet,” Brown said. “This is really nice. I was injured my freshman year and didn’t get to run at district. Then last year I found out I had three stress fractures [in his feet] right before this meet, so I didn’t get to run again.
“This year I wanted to make sure my first district meet was a win.”
Junior Nick Jarrell (ninth) and sophomore Jake Barnes (10th) joined Brown in the top 10.
“We ran a good race,” St. John’s coach Todd Black said. “We had guys step up and really meet the challenge. They’re pushing each other, which is good. We don’t want anyone to get complacent.”
The other two qualifying teams in District 2 were Tiffin Columbian (73) and Northern Lakes League champion Springfield (87).
In the District 1 boys race, Ashland easily topped runner-up Central Catholic 44-97 despite a first-place individual finish from Irish junior George McCartney (16:11.8).
“It was kind of hard to breath in this cold weather,” McCartney said. “I had my coach in the last 400 [meters] telling me to gut it out. That’s what we do in practice on our last 400s.
“I just sucked in the pain and did what I had to do. Winning was great. I love it. I didn’t want to go out too fast. I just wanted to stay with the leading pack, stay in front of them, not let anyone pass me, and go all out at the finish.”
The District 1 individual runner-up was senior Louis Guardiola (16:16.6) of Fremont Ross, and Ashland’s top finishers were Leif McFrederick (third) and Mark Fick (fourth).
The other two qualifying teams in District 1 were Perrysburg (100) and Fremont Ross (108).
There were no surprises in the two girls races.
In District 1, NLL champion Perrysburg placed its five scoring runners among the top nine spots to easily outpoint team runner-up Whitmer 27-98.
Leading the Yellow Jackets were individual champion Taylor Monheim (18:56.9) and third-place Courtney Clody (19:21.9), both seniors. In between them was Southview senior Alexandra Wainstein (19:04.2).
“I started off the first 800 relaxed and let the other runners take it out,” Monheim said. “When we got to 800 I started moving out and tried to keep my pace constant.
“At the end, I had to pick it up a little bit because [Southview’s Alexandra Wainstein] was close by, so I tried to finish as hard as I could.”
Monheim and Clody were 1-2 in last week’s NLL meet at Secor Park.
Also scoring for the Jackets were junior Jordan Doore (sixth), freshman Grace Lahey (eighth), and junior Emily Henry (ninth).
“We ran about the same as we did last week, which was good,” Perrysburg coach Jon Monheim said. “I was hoping we weren’t at our best today so that we stay hungry for next week.”
Whitmer was led by sophomore Abbigail Dorn, who placed fifth.
The other two District 1 girls teams to qualify to Saturday’s regional meet in Tiffin were Ashland (100) and Fremont Ross (132).
Ross won a tie-breaker for the last regional berth, with its No. 6 runner finishing higher than Central Catholic’s No. 6 runner.
In the District 2 girls race, TRAC champion Clay won its first girls district championship in school history, topping runner-up Notre Dame by a comfortable 37-57 margin.
Clay’s Eagles were led by the TRAC individual champion, senior Erin Gyurke, who ran a 19:19.1 to win the individual title despite falling in the late going.
“It was with less than 800 [meters] to go,” Gyurke said of her fall. “I went to go around a turn and my foot just slid out from under me and went to the ground. I was on my back and all muddy.
“I was little worried because I hurt my hip last Wednesday and I didn’t train. I was hoping when I went down I didn’t know if I hurt it worse. But it was OK.”
Gyurke was again well-complemented by sophomore teammate Haley Hess, who placed second in 19:24.6.
Notre Dame’s top finisher was third-place sophomore Stephanie Sherman (19:36.9), and Clay’s other point scorers were freshmen Sydney Hess (seventh), Caitlyn Kuecher (10th), and sophomore Hannah Hess (17th), Haley’s twin sister.
“This is good,” coach Dave Hess said of Clay’s first district crown. “We’ve been close several times, including last year. It was our goal to win today, but to do it without having to go as hard. We’re looking for another strong performance next week.”
The other two regional qualifying teams were Bowling Green (85) and Anthony Wayne (100).