Bowling Green s Christy Titus and Maumee s Bo Waggoner started their march on overwhelming the Northern Lakes League in cross country three years ago when they arrived on the scene as optimistic, yet inexperienced, freshmen.
Both orchestrated the unexpected winning individual varsity league titles as ninth-graders. They went a step further by repeating as league champions as sophomores. They returned last fall and captured the crown for a third consecutive season.
Not surprisingly both are considered heavy favorites to win a fourth straight NLL individual title when they run Saturday at Secor Park.
"It would be exciting and it would be a nice ending to my four years in the league," said Titus.
A victory for the Bobcats all-time best girls distance runner would make her only the second female to claim the league title four years. The other was Jinny Hanifan of Anthony Wayne (1996-99).
Titus admits she s come a long way in her running career at Bowling Green.
"My freshmen year I had no expectations at all," Titus said. "It was just so new I said I ll just go out and see what I can do."
A win for Waggoner would make him the first male to claim the NLL s championship four times. Like Titus, Maumee s all-time best distance runner has exceeded his own expectations with his dominance.
"Coming into my freshman year I definitely wanted to have a big impact on the team," Waggoner recalled. "But it all just came together for me [at the league meet.] My goal for the race was getting in the best position I could and just go for it if I could."
It s not really surprising that the two runners careers have paralleled each other. Both showed potential as good distance runners early in their high school careers. Both have also dedicated plenty of effort into getting better each year. Both have also run in the state track meet.
BG coach Brian Tucker considers Titus success a testament to her commitment to running.
"She is a very hard working girl, a very coachable kid," Brian Tucker said. "She does a good job, as well as our other seniors, of being a leader. She does have a lot of natural ability that combines with her work ethic."
Tucker suspected a while ago that Titus might be in this position heading into her final league race.
"When she was a freshman we knew she was something pretty special," he said. "As she developed we liked her ability and thought she d have a shot at winning league four years in a row."
Maumee coach Dave Dugai also is not surprised about Waggoner having a shot at making league history.
"He s a very disciplined young man," Dugai said. "He keeps track of his mileage for each week and even the intensity of his workouts."
Yet, the pursuit of a fourth straight league title by Titus and Waggoner doesn t completely tell of their exploits during the fall sports season.
Titus has been the leader of the pack to a Bobcats cross country dynasty. As well as winning three straight NLL team titles with Titus, BG has won three Division I state championships. The Bobcats have been ranked No. 1 all season in the state coaches poll.
"We ve had a great run regardless of what happens this year," Tucker said. "I don t know if we could have done what we ve been able to do without her. Christy certainly has been the focal point of the team."
However, Titus, who has finished as high as second at the state cross country meet, doesn t consider the individual victories as the end-all or a greater accomplishment than what the Bobcats have won as a group.
"They re both kind of the same but if our team didn t win I d be disappointed," said Titus, who runs approximately 30 miles a week.
Titus, whose personal-best time of 17.48 stands as the school record, expects to run cross country and track in college. She ranks Boston College, Syracuse and Grand Valley State tops on her list of choices.
"I decided I wanted to go away for school," said Titus, who could make a decision perhaps as early as next month.
Waggoner s success has also expanded beyond league titles.
He s finished as high as 13th at the state meet (last season) and his first-place time of 15.18.5 at the Tiffin Carnival this season broke his own school record.
Waggoner, who has run as many as 70 miles in one week of training, currently ranks in the top five of his class with a grade-point average of 4.72.
He has taken official visits to Duke and Princeton within the past month but remains "up in the air" about selecting a college.
"Not only is he a good athlete he s a good student," Dugai said. "He s the package."
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com or 419-724-6302.