Meredith Wagner showed in more ways than one the characteristics of a true champion yesterday at the Northern Lakes League cross country meet held at Bowling Green State University.
Not only did the Northview junior claim the league title by finishing first with a winning time of 18 minutes, 41 seconds, Wagner practically broke her stride 10 yards from the finish line when Perrysburg's Kaitlyn Llewellyn fell to the ground only a couple feet ahead of her. She almost stopped to help up her competition.
However, when Llewellyn tried to get up off the ground to finish the race Wagner proceeded to pass her to claim victory.
But the victory was not entirely sweet as she broke into tears and went back to try and assist Llewellyn after she found enough strength to lift herself off the ground and step over the finish line for second place with a time of 18:46.
"I felt terrible," said Wagner, while wiping away tears. "It's just hard to see someone fall like that and you have to win like that.
"I've never been in that situation before and I never thought something like that would happen."
Northview girls coach Jon Monheim wasn't surprised by Wagner's actions.
"She's one of the finest individuals I've ever coached," he said. "That's totally her character."
Llewellyn, who outran Wagner in an earlier meeting this season, said she never experienced a situation like that before where her body simply gave out on her during a race.
"I just collapsed," Llewellyn said. "I'm kind of shocked because that has never happened to me."
Despite the fall that cost her a league title after finishing first in league dual meets all season, Llewellyn credited Wagner for her run.
"She's a good runner and she did a great job," Llewellyn said. "I still had to cross the line for the team."
The Wildcats finished in four of the top nine spots to win the league meet with a score of 32, which also secured the league championship based upon league meet and dual meet results.
Nicole Mangas placed third (19:21), Moe Dean sixth (20:03), Mackenzie Reeves ninth (20:25), respectively, for Northview.
Also finishing in the top 10 includes Anthony Wayne's Alyssa Miller fourth (19:35), Perrysburg's Andrea Alt fifth (19:51), Southview's Kendra Kezur seventh (20:18), Southview's Hilary Parlette eighth (20:18) and Springfield's Katie Ott 10th (20:28), respectively.
"They ran their best race of the season," Monheim said, of the Wildcats.
"Every girl stepped up and made a difference in a tight race."
Perrysburg ran second in both categories after finishing second in the league meet with a score of 52, followed by Southview 55, Anthony Wayne 97, Bowling Green 146, Rossford 185, Maumee 194, Springfield 197.
Meanwhile, Northview's boys team, paced by Jacob Barnes, won the league meet with a score of 30, which secured the boys league championship to give the Wildcats a sweep of the NLL cross country titles.
Barnes won the boys race running away with a time of 16:18, followed by teammate Sean O'Connell in a distant second place with a time of 16:50.
Nick Homan ran eighth (17:04), Derek Pohlman ninth (17:05) and Chris Ludwig 10th (17:05), respectively, to give the Wildcats half of the top 10 finishers.
Southview's William Schumacher finished third (16:56), followed by Perrysburg's Tyler Swartz fourth (16:59), Southview's Kyle Forrester fifth (17:02), Perrysburg's Evan Lepolt sixth (17:03) and Rossford's Shawn Bryant seventh (17:04), respectively, to complete the top 10.
Northview's strong showing clinched the seventh straight league championship for the Wildcats.
"We ran really well as a team," said Barnes, who placed second in the league meet a year ago. "We were hoping to run a good race out here after we went undefeated in league.
"This is just a real good test for us to go on to districts, regionals and hopefully state."
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