City League champion Central Catholic got a 1-2 individual finish en route to its first boys district cross country title in more than a decade, taking a Division I, District 2 victory yesterday, and Northview atoned for its sub-par output in the Northern Lakes League meet a week ago to win the District 1 boys crown at Pearson Park.
In girls competition, NLL champion Bowling Green showed why it is ranked third in the state with a dominant team effort to take the District 1 title, and CL champion Notre Dame Academy had just enough depth to edge runner-up Anthony Wayne 42-43 for the District 2 crown.
Junior Kevin Spalding (16:47.54) and senior Jorden Schultz (16:52.28) paced Central's victory with their 1-2 effort, and the Irish put five runners in the top 13 spots to beat runner-up Maumee. The NLL champions totaled 69 points, and Fremont Ross (80) was the third District 2 team to qualify for Saturday's regional meet in Tiffin.
“I just figured I'd try to catch him and push him,” Spalding said of his duel with Schultz. “I didn't care who won as long as we both did good. There was about a mile left when I took over and he stayed close and pushed me. Last week was my best race of the year, but this wasn't too bad either. The team stepped up today.”
Spalding was third in the CL, and Schultz bounced back yesterday after breathing difficulty kept him from finishing the league race.
“This was our best race to date,” said 18th-year Central coach Jim Petiniot, who a week earlier guided the Irish to their first CL win since 1990. “Kevin [Spalding] has probably got more natural talent than the rest of the guys, and it's starting to come to the surface now.
“Now the real racing starts. We know we're fit and we know we're ready. There's always a possibility that something could go wrong [at the regional], but we feel real strong right now. It's been our goal to get to states, and next week is the test.”
Whitmer sophomore Skyler Schmitt, whose personal-best time of 16:01 won the CL individual title a week earlier at Ottawa Park, ran a 16:23.00 yesterday to win the boys District 1 race and help the Panthers qualify for the regional in third place (93 points).
“I had a hard week of practice, so I was a little tired going into the race,” Schmitt said. “I knew all I had to do is stay behind the leader and just beat him at the end with a kick. That's my strategy every week.”
Bowling Green's Brad Wells was second in District 1 at 16:27.73, while junior Steve Waites paced Northview's first-place team effort by taking third. Teammates Craig Weaver (seventh) and Alex Walch (eighth) joined Waites in the top 10. St. John's Jesuit (72 points) was second in District 1.
“They had a plan today and they stuck with it,” said sixth-year Northview coach Ross Deye. “They all had a good day today. Who knows how it happens, but we were just on today. It was our best team race of the year without a doubt. Last week they were a little bit off [placing second to Maumee in the NLL meet], and I think they wanted to show that they had more than that.”
Deye coached three boys teams and one girls squad to state team titles during his 18 years at Southview (1979-1996).
The Bowling Green girls are young and fast and yesterday proved to be an overwhelming force in the District 1 race.
Bobcat freshman Christy Titus (18:58.13), who won individually, led a charge that put all seven of BG's competing runners in the top 10.
“I took the lead early and held on to it,” Titus said. “That's how I like to do it. I don't have very strong finishes, so I take it out faster and just hope I have a little left at the end.”
Aside from Titus, the BG scorers were sophomore Paige Lane, freshmen Barbara Powers and Alyssa Glenn, and junior Kelly May. They placed 3, 4, 5 and 7, respectively, for 20 team points.
“This is our kind of course because it's flat and it's fast and several of our kids are more sprinter-type runners,” said 27th-year Bobcat coach Brian Tucker. “So, we're pleased with what we did today. It was one of our better performances of the year. There's always room to get better, but we're pleased.”
St. Ursula Academy (second place, 58 points) and Whitmer (third, 100) were the other regional qualifiers from the District 1 race.
Standout senior Jennifer Spieldenner of Findlay battled an illness to post the best girls time (18:44.19) of the day to win the District 2 meet, but her Trojan team failed to qualify for the regional. Bowsher, led by eighth-place freshman Chanelle Caldwell, took the third spot after Notre Dame and Anthony Wayne with 95 points.
“I love this course,” Spieldenner said. “It's my favorite. But it was difficult today because I've had a cold all week and it's been difficult for me to breathe. I didn't feel as strong as I normally do.
“It was a heart race. I had to utilize my love of running to this one out.”
Junior Alli McMaster topped Notre Dame with a second-place effort of 18:53.55, and freshman Meredith Harris and seniors Jenna Sobb and Anna Malone joined her in the top 10 individually. Junior Rachel Beakas and freshmen twins Alyssa and Ashley Evens placed 3-4-5 for Anthony Wayne.
“We knew we'd get out of districts but we wanted to win it,” Notre Dame coach Becky Rudnicki said. “That was a team goal. We didn't hit the times we wanted to, but they ran well. We've got two more weeks, so we'll see what happens.”