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Published: 11/5/2009

Sidelines: Northview boys among top contenders at state

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

In one week, the Northview boys cross country team has gone from being the hunter to being the hunted.

Last Saturday the Wildcats entered the Division I regional at Tiffin ranked second in the state coaches poll. That probably will change this week after Northview won its regional, an event that featured five of the top six ranked teams in the state.

The Wildcats beat Cleveland St. Ignatius, the only team ranked ahead of them in the poll. As a result, Northview will enter this week's state meet Saturday at Scioto Downs near Columbus, as one of the favorites to claim a state title.

Northview boys coach Ross Deye already has talked to his team about handling high expectations.

"We expect St. Ignatius to be more determined this week, and we expect challenges from teams such as Medina too," Deye said. "St. Ignatius may have been a little complacent last week, but they won't be this week. And we can't have any complacency, either."

The good news is that the Wildcats have a veteran lineup that features five seniors -

Jacob Barnes, Sean O'Connell, Nick Homan, Harry Zeitler and Derek Pohlman - as well as a pair of juniors in Mike Wallace and Kevin McKown.

"This is a senior-laden team, and three of our top seven have run in the state meet before - some more than once," Deye said. "If experience is a factor, we think that will be a positive for us."

Perhaps an even bigger upset came in the same race, when unranked Central Catholic earned fourth place and a trip to state. Last season the Irish advanced to Columbus in Division II.

Several local individuals are expected to contend for the individual crown in the D-I boys race, including Greg Turissini of St. John's, Steve Graver of Central and Northview's Barnes.

Meanwhile, the Northview girls also will be among the teams battling for a title. The Wildcats won the Pickerington regional, with senior Meredith Wagner claiming the individual title with a time of 19:22.57.

"The girls were excited to run in the mud, and they had great confidence going into the race," said Northview girls coach Jon Monheim of his team, which was ranked fifth in state poll. "They were determined to walk away as regional champions, and in the second half of the race they made up some incredible ground to ensure the victory."

Notre Dame, which placed third at the regional, also will compete at state, as will junior Andrea Alt of Perrysburg and Southview teammates Lexi Lopez, a freshman, and Kendra Kezur, a junior.

"Last year was my first year [running cross country], so it was more about having fun - to see if I like the sport,"

Kezur said. "This year it's been a lot more serious, running to do well and to go to state."

Area teams also have a chance at team honors in Division III as Delta, ranked seventh in the state, and 11th-ranked Elmwood will send full squads.

"[The regional] is a battle of attrition - who survives?" Elmwood coach Chris Hailey said. "The competition in our regional was excellent, so I was very satisfied [with our performance].

"We just wanted to make sure we took care of business. This week we'll worry about what is important: doing well in the state meet."

Other area runners in the boys race include senior Seth Butler of Liberty-Benton, junior Darrell Randall of Fayette, senior Mark Berton of Fostoria St. Wendelin, senior Elias Dandar of Gibsonburg and junior Kyle Babcock of Lakota.

Liberty Center will also be in the D-III girls race. The Tigers look to continue an amazing season that has included the team's first Northwest Ohio Athletic League title as well as its first regional championship.

Individually, area runners who advanced to the state meet in D-III include Woodmore juniors Lacy Nagy and Bailey Ulinski, freshman Delainey Phelps of Toledo Christian, Julia Windom of Lakota, Otsego's Leah Wagoner, Samantha Hoffman of Gibsonburg, Tanner Hostetler of Pettisville and Halle Frey of Liberty-Benton.

"I'm really excited about getting back to state," said Nagy, who finished 14th last year to earn All-Ohio honors. "I hope I can get back on the podium again."

Two area runners, Napoleon senior Rachel Huddle and Wauseon junior Marin Baird, will fight to finish among the top 15 runners and earn All-Ohio honors in Division II.

"I didn't have a very good start [in the regional race], and I really had to fight to get back up among the top group of girls," said Huddle, who will advance to the state meet for a fourth year in a row. "I just wanted to get down to state, and there I just want to do the best I can."

Two area runners also will compete in the Division II boys race - Lake senior Zack Powell and Napoleon sophomore

Steven Weaver.

Bedford will send both its boys and girls teams to the Division 1 meet, while the Erie Mason boys won its Division 3 regional and the Whiteford boys qualified in Division 4.

The meet will be run at Michigan International Speedway Saturday.

The Bedford boys finished tied for second at the regional held at Lake Erie Metropark in Brownstown Township, Mich. The Mules were led by junior Nick Kaiser in third with a time of 16:10.5, while senior Tommy Valade was sixth with a 16:23.5 clocking.

The Bedford girls used a fine "pack" effort to place third in the regional. The team's top five runners finished with 28 seconds of one another, led by junior Amanda Zittleman in 14th with a time of 20:41.6.

The Erie Mason boys narrowly edged Ida 68-72 to win its Division 3 regional at Willow Run in Huron Township. Andy Raymond led the Eagles with a seventh-place finish in 17:27.5, with teammate Nick Raymond next with a 17:31.8 clocking.

And the Whiteford boys finished third in Division 4 at Lake Erie Metropark. The Bobcats were led by Jake Berry, whose time of 18:01.8 was good for second.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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