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Published: Sunday, 11/2/2008

St. John's finishes sixth in D-I cross country

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Stryker's Kenny Graber leads an Elmwood runner in the
Division III race. Elmwood placed eighth and Stryker 15th. Stryker's Kenny Graber leads an Elmwood runner in the Division III race. Elmwood placed eighth and Stryker 15th.
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COLUMBUS - Several area boys cross country teams found a measure of redemption yesterday at the state championships at Scioto Downs.

One of those teams was St. John's Jesuit, which bounced back from a fourth-place effort at the regional last week to finish sixth in Division I with 194 points.

"We came in sharper [this week]," Titans coach Todd Black said. "We shook off last week and put ourselves in a situation where we did our best.

"It's a better feeling than last week. I feel our guys put everything out there and ran decent races, and we can be happy with that."

Mason won the Division I team title with 100 points, 20 fewer than second-place Hilliard Davidson.

A lingering injury to Ian McNair proved to be too much for St. John's to overcome.

"It was tough [without Ian] to run with the lead teams," Black said. "Racing is such a rhythm sport, but a setback really knocks you out of rhythm.

St. John's senior Kevin Yarnell, who finished third overall at 15:42.26, gets a hug from teammate Preston Benjamin as Jacob Van Dootingh, left, and Ben Miller gather after the race. St. John's senior Kevin Yarnell, who finished third overall at 15:42.26, gets a hug from teammate Preston Benjamin as Jacob Van Dootingh, left, and Ben Miller gather after the race.
PHIL LONG Enlarge

"We had some solid races, though. Kevin [Yarnell] had a good race, and [Greg] Turissini ran well [23rd]. Overall we were in a position to do the best we could."

Zach Wills of Mason, a sophomore, finished first with a time of 15:15.66. Yarnell, a senior, stayed with Wills and the lead pack early and eventually placed third overall at 15:42.26. Turissini had a time of 16:07.95.

"The first mile, I wasn't expecting a 4:38," Yarnell said. "It definitely was fast. But I got through it. And in the second mile I just did what I could to hang with the leaders.

"I knew it would be fast the whole race. I wasn't able to catch up with the lead pack at the end, but I did what I could."

Yarnell earned All-Ohio honors by finishing among the top 15 individuals, as did Findlay senior Stephen Mackell, whose time of 16:00.68 was good for 15th.

"I knew it would be more intense than I was used to," Mackell said of the race. "So I tried to hang back at the first mile, then surge from the mile mark to the two-mile mark."

The Division III race saw Delta make a statement one year after missing last year's state meet despite having a pair of runners earn All-Ohio honors individually. The Panthers used a tight pack - their five scoring runners finished less than a minute apart - to place sixth with 184 points. Sophomore Colin Fisher led the way with a 16:25.67 to place 14th in the team race. Elliott Oberneder, a junior, ran a

16:53.66 for 27th.

"I thought our kids really stepped up to the plate," Delta coach Jeff Taylor said. "When you get to this big stage, you really don't know what to expect. But we definitely came in here and performed at our best - I was excited about the run by all seven guys.

"That's been one of our strengths, our depth. I'm proud of our guys."

Bellaire St. John Central won the team title with 104, with Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas second with 115. Elmwood finished two spots behind Delta with 206, and Hilltop was next with 218, while Stryker placed 15th.

Isaiah Bragg, a Cincinnati Christian junior who went to school at Toledo Christian before his family moved three years ago, won the individual title with a time of 15:54.79.

Hilltop's Cody Livensparger was the top local runner, placing eighth at 16:08.94.

"I just wanted to get out so I didn't get caught behind the rest of the pack," Livensparger said. "When guys tried to pass me in the last mile, I tried to push to stay with them."

Also earning All-Ohio honors was Seth Butler of Liberty-

Benton, whose time of 16:18.53 was good for 14th.

"Hopefully I've proved a point to everybody who thinks I'm just an 800 [meters] runner," said Butler, who won the Division III title in the last track season. "I made top 15 at state. I wanted to come out and compete with the top cross country runners in that state, and I think I proved to them that I can."

In Division II, Peninsula

Woodridge won its third straight team crown with 96 points, three fewer than Tipp City Tippecanoe. Central Catholic, whose lineup included only one senior, placed 13th.

"We had a good race - we were right where we expected to be," Central coach Jim Petiniot said. "Our kids have been up since 6:30 this morning, so it took some time to calm them down.

"You need to get this under your belt once to do it well the next time. That's why we're excited for next year."

Junior Steve Graver led the Irish with a 37th-place effort. Two Defiance runners, Zach Wiles and Trevin Flickinger, earned All-Ohio honors by placing eighth and 10th, respectively.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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