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Under nearly ideal course conditions at Ottawa Park, things went just about as expected yesterday for City League cross country favorites St. John's Jesuit and Notre Dame Academy in the respective boys and girls championship meets.
Each won by wide margins in matching league records for consecutive team titles. St. John's 27 points easily topped closest competitors St. Francis de Sales (67) and Central Catholic (79), and Notre Dame posted 22 points to cruise over runner-up Central (58) and third-place Whitmer (77).
For the Titans, who were paced by the 1-2 individual finish of senior Kevin Yarnell (15:30.57) and sophomore Greg Turissini (15:54.48), their fifth consecutive team triumph matched the CL record set by St. Francis from 1985-89.
"We had [No. 3 runner] Ian McNair out today, and Chris Madaras not running well," Titans coach Todd Black said, "but we had some guys stepping up. "Preston Benjamin was our seventh man because we had a guy out, and he ended up running a great race and just missed making All-City. The young guys continue to do well.
"Last year we set the low score record [19 points] and, with a guy out, we knew that wasn't going to happen. So, we just wanted to try and get another win."
Notre Dame's seventh straight team championship duplicated Central's league domination from 1985-1991. Eagles senior runner-up Ashley Aberl led a second-through-fifth-place pack with a time of 19:31.11.
She was joined in the scoring by four teammates who all placed in the top 10 for first-team All-CL honors. That group included freshman Alexandra Aughenbaugh, junior Ellen Guisfredi and sophomore Lauren Duncan, who were third, fourth and fifth, respectively, and junior Elizabeth Lemon, who was eighth.
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Surprising Aberl, who was considered the individual favorite, was Central senior Kelly Karcher, a newcomer on the City League scene.
Karcher transferred from Roswell, Ga. when her father, Ken Karcher, became quarterbacks coach for the University of Toledo football team this year.
Dad didn't see his daughter's victory because he was busy with his own triumph, UT's upset win at Michigan yesterday.
"He called me last night and he texted me this morning to wish me luck," Kelly said of her dad.
Kelly Karcher did not know what to expect from a competitive standpoint. Her Roswell team ran at the 1A level in Georgia, the small-school division, and didn't have enough runners for a full team. But she placed third in Georgia's 1A state meet.
"I was hoping that getting on a [full] team would help make me faster," Karcher said. "I used to train by myself. It feels so good to win. I was just happy for the opportunity.
"Aberl is so good and she's competitive. She had beaten me every single time. I was the underdog. There was nothing to lose, so I wanted to hang as long and as hard as I could and then hopefully be able to kick it out."
Aberl was off her usual pace early, and was unable to recover.
"I'm not disappointed," Aberl said. "I just did my best. Winning's not everything. We just went out a little slower and the pace wasn't that fast. Every race is different, and you don't have it every day. Karcher is a strong runner and she did her best. I'm just proud to be on a team that's so strong."
Yarnell entered hoping to top former teammate Joe Miller's CL boys record of 15:20.42 (set in 2006). That quest seemed unlikely as soon as the first mile (4:58 for Yarnell), however, and was all but lost after two.
"I wanted to get out a little faster," Yarnell said, "but I was running by myself, which is tough. Winning five straight as a team is awesome. That's a new record, and we're proud of that.
"We're training really well right now and we've just now started to get into some speed work, so I think we're going to peak at the right time, and that's at Scioto Downs [state meet Nov. 1]."
Also scoring for St. John's were sophomore Jacob VanDoothingh and juniors Ben Miller and Preston Benjamin (sixth, seventh and 11th). "I'm happy with my result," Turissini said. "I just wanted to go out there and stick with Kevin for most of the race. I knew he was going to pull away from me towards the end."
Rounding out the boys top 10 to earn first-team All-City honors were St. Francis sophomores Aaron Schenk and Scott LaVoy (third and ninth, respectively), Whitmer seniors Moise Frisch and Paul Klocinski (fourth and fifth), and Central juniors Steve Graver and Ricky Adamson (eighth and 10th).
Rounding out the girls top 10 were senior Logan Hamel and sophomore Ashley Roberts of Whitmer (sixth and seventh), and senior Molly Traudt and junior Anne Marie King of St. Ursula (ninth and 10th).
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