Northwest Ohio's top-ranked Division I teams, the Defiance boys and Bowling Green girls, didn't disappoint as both cruised to easy wins in district races at Oregon's Pearson Park yesterday afternoon.
Defiance's top five runners, led by Lewis Butler's first-place finish (16:28.57) in the boys District 1 race, placed in the top 10 and scored 22 points, compared with second-place St. Francis de Sales' 66.
Bowling Green placed five runners in the top 14 to score 38 points in the girls District 1 race to runner-up Whitmer's 72.
St. John's Jesuit, with Paul Lemon and Chris Orosz going 2-3 in the District 2 race, won with 28 points while Central Catholic was second with 48.
Notre Dame edged St. Ursula 53-55 in a nail-biting finish in the District 2 girls race.
“We've run most of our races in the Columbus and Cincinnati area, so they know us real well down there,” said Defiance coach Tom Held. “We never got much respect here, but the kids ran very well today. Lewis really struggled in the [Western Buckeye Conference] meet last week, but he really bounced back today. That's a testament to his mental toughness.”
St. John's coach Jon Monheim said he believes the Titans will be up to the challenge of facing Defiance next week in the regional.
“We certainly watched the first race and looked at their times and our times, and I think we match up pretty well,” Monheim said. “There's going to be a lot of good Cleveland teams in the regional, but we're running pretty good right now so we'll see what happens.”
Whitmer (66 points) tied with St. Francis for second in the District 1 race, but was placed third based on the sixth-runner finish. Individual qualifiers in the District 1 race were Jeffrey Wright (8th, 16:51.73) and Craig Weaver (11th, 16:54.81), both from Northview.
Northern Lakes League champion Brad Wells won the District 2 race with the best boys time - 16:03.69. His win helped Bowling Green qualify as a team in the District 2 race with 108 points.
Findlay's Luke Cramer (7th, 16:49.55) and Adam Shaeffer (12th, 17:04.26) of Perrysburg qualified as individuals.
Jennifer Spieldenner of Findlay ran the best girls time yesterday, winning the District 1 race with an 18:56.93. She broke the 19-minute barrier for the first time at the Clay Invitational at Pearson Park two weeks ago and again during the Great Lakes League meet.
“That's three times I've run in the 18s and it gives me so much more confidence,” Spieldenner said. “I'd never run in the 18s before. When I did it the first time, I thought, that's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Now, I feel like I can do it over again.”
Anthony Wayne's Rachel Beakas, the Generals' cross country/soccer star, posted the second-best time for the girls in the same race with a 19:07.05.
“We had two soccer games last week and my legs were a little tired but I was fine,” said Beakas after keeping Spieldenner within sprinting distance for most of the race. “I still think I've got something left in me. I think soccer helps me conditioning-wise.”
The Northview girls team (81 points) qualified for the regional with a third-place finish in the District 1 race. Along with Spieldenner and Beakas, other individual qualifiers were Stacy Hall (9th, 20:20.46) of Fremont Ross and Kelsey Webb (11th, 20:23.72) of Anthony Wayne.
St. Ursula's Alli McMaster (19:07.64) won the District 2 race by more than 30 seconds over Notre Dame's Ashley Alt. But it was the Eagles - with Alt's second-place finish, Anna Malone's third place and Jenna Sobb's fifth - edging the Arrows for the team title.
“I really didn't feel like it was my best race,” McMaster said afterward. “I tried my hardest because I wanted to keep my lead.”
Notre Dame's first-year coach, Becky Rudnicki, said even with the district title in hand she really hasn't given much thought to next week's regional competition.
“I'm very pleased with our times and how we ran,” Rudnicki said. “You can tell the girls really wanted it this year. We set new goals each week. I really would like to get three girls to the state meet.”
Springfield (104 points) finished third in the District 2 race to qualify as a team. Southview's Megan Tittle (6th, 20:13.36), Amanda Myers (7th, 20:38.66) of Maumee, and Hope Jagodzinski (10th, 21:00.51) and Mindy Yarberry (12th, 21:03.48) of Central also qualified.