Saturday's City League cross country championships at Ottawa Park started out with very little drama.
The Notre Dame girls breezed to their eighth straight team title, breaking the old record for consecutive girls crowns set by Central Catholic from 1985-1991.
But whatever suspense was lacking from that competition was made up in the boys race, which at first appeared to go to St. Francis de Sales in a tie-breaker. That was before a disqualification on the Knights enabled rival St. John's Jesuit to instead set a boys CL record with its sixth team title in succession.
Notre Dame, which was led by sophomore Lexi Aughenbaugh's first-place time of 18:44.73, had six of its seven runners place in the top 10, thus earning individual first-team All-City honors. ND's seventh runner placed 15th.
"You just try to build depth, keep them coming back each year, hope they're enjoying it, and hope that they like that they're doing well," eighth-year Notre Dame coach Becky Mincheff said. "We're just coming out and working hard, and the City meet is just one more step.
"The girls are right where they should be. Elizabeth Lemon took four seconds off of her PR, and Lexi Aughenbaugh tied her PR. We were hoping for everyone to dig a little deeper, and that didn't happen. But they all did well. No one should go home disappointed."
Only the top five figure in the scoring, and the Eagles' 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 order from Aughenbaugh, Lemon (second, 19:12.55), Lauren Duncan (fourth), Lindsey Myers (fifth) and Sarah Mallow (seventh) totaled 19 points, matching ND's team CL meet record set in 2004.
Central was second in the girls race at 75 points and Whitmer third at 88.
"It felt wonderful to have everyone cheering me on," Aughenbaugh said. "My first mile time was slower than it should have been by around 15 seconds. Mentally, I knew I didn't have the course record [18:32], but I knew I could still pick it up.
"My second mile time was still slow, but when I finished I felt great. It's harder to get a fast kick because I didn't have anybody next to me. When people come up on me at the end, I usually can move really fast."
After the boys runners came through the chute at the finish line, the unofficial scoring had St. John's (places 1, 2, 11, 13 and 14) and St. Francis (3, 4, 9, 10, 15) tied at 41 points for the five scoring runners. That would have a necessitated a sixth-runner tie-breaker and - since the Knights' sixth finisher was 19th, St. John's 20th - St. Francis would have won.
But, Knight junior Aaron Schenk was stripped of his apparent fourth-place spot after the race ended. A course official reported that Schenk had veered out of bounds on the inside edge of a curve roughly midway through the race.
The final boys team results thus had St. John's beating the Knights 38-52, with Central third at 65 points.
Schenk, one of the league's top runners, placed third in last year's City meet.
"It's been that kind of a year for us," seventh-year Titans coach Todd Black said of the tight finish. "We've had a few guys banged up, so we'll take the win. St. Francis ran well. They put it out there and came after us.
"You've got to follow the rules. It could happen to us too. That's a tough way to lose, but things like that happen in every sport."
Yesterday's individual champion was St. John's junior Greg Turissini who posted a 15:57.30, slower than his second-place
15:54.48 finish last year behind then senior teammate Kevin Yarnell. Turissini took fifth in the CL meet as a freshman in 2007.
"I was focused on winning the individual title and I wanted to go out pretty fast the first mile," Turissini said. "I wasn't quite where I wanted to be there, but then I just struck a solid pace to the end. I had a little left at the end, and I think I could've maybe gone a little faster. In the last mile I just focused on staying ahead of everyone, and I used what I had left to hold them off."
Joining Turissini in the top-10 were two Titan teammates, senior Preston Benjamin, the runner-up at 16:06.79 and sophomore Ryan Shields (10th). Also scoring for St.John's were junior Mark Miller (12th) and freshman Drew Savage (13th).
Topping St. Francis were junior Scott LaVoy (third, 16:12.58), senior Eric Aubry (eighth) and junior Larry Jajou (ninth).
Rounding out the boys' top 10 were senior Steve Graver (fourth) and junior Connor Buchholz (sixth) of Central, Clay sophomore Thomas Gibbons (fifth), and Bowsher sophomore William Fink (seventh).
The girls' top-10, first-team All-City group was completed by Clay junior Megan Csehi, who was third in 19:22.40, Central seniors Kaitlyn Krizman and Hannah Kulczak, who placed sixth and ninth, respectively, Whitmer junior Ashley Roberts (eighth), and Notre Dame senior Ellen Guisfredi (10th).
St. John's sixth straight team title surpassed the old mark of five shared by the Titans (1975-79) and St. Francis (1985-89).
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