Monday, October 29th, 2007
By Bruce Monnin
MAC sending five CC teams to Columbus
TROY - Area cross country teams faced a stacked regional at Troy with some of the best competition in the state. Despite this, Midwest Athletic Conference teams claimed five of the eight qualifying spots for the state meet.
The St. Henry, New Bremen and Minster boys' teams all finished in the top four to advance, as did the girls' teams from Minster and Versailles. Coldwater's Dusty Kuess also advanced as an individual with an 11th-place finish.
While Russia ran away with the boys' race, it was extremely close between St. Henry, New Bremen, Minster and Yellow Springs for the other three invitations to the state meet. The tension was nowhere greater than among the many St. Henry fans who were gathered to see if the Redskins would qualify for their first ever trip to state competition.
After the race, the organizers read the team results in reverse order. When Yellow Springs was announced as the fifth-place team, there was happiness among the Minster and New Bremen fans, but sheer pandemonium erupted from the St. Henry faithful.
Other roars went up when Minster was announced to be fourth and New Bremen third, and by the time St. Henry was announced as the second-place team it was hard to tell that anyone else had any fans on site.
It was not only the Redskin fans who were surprised at how high St. Henry finished.
"We were talking all week that we were hoping to finish fourth. Deep down, I thought we could get third, but I really didn't think we'd get second," admitted St. Henry coach Mike Eyink. "Everyone ran well. The two Schulze boys (Dillan and Mitchell), when you compare where they normally finish, they ran exceptionally well. Across the board we ran exceptionally well. All week long we talked about team, and I think it worked."
New Bremen's result is another step forward for its recently successful program. This is the Cardinals fifth straight appearance at regionals, including a previous trip to the state meet in 2004.
"We have a nice little run going," stated New Bremen Coach Adam Topp, "These kids worked really hard, and lately we've been peaking. We've been pretty quiet all year, kind of under the radar with nobody paying much attention to us."
Jeff Kremer led the team with a 10th-place finish, while all of their top five runners finished in the top 53 places.
"Jeff Kremer set the table for us, lowering his best time by 40 seconds last week," added Topp. "He carried it over to this week and the team followed suit."
For the fourth-place Minster Wildcats, it was a mixture of experience and youth that earned them their trip to Columbus. Senior Kregg Olding finished 14th, three places better than last year, while senior David McGowan also recorded one of his better times on the year. But the big showing came from freshman Jack Olding, who ran his best time of the year to finish 34th, and seems to be maturing at precisely the right time of the season.
While the Coldwater boys' team did not advance, junior Dusty Kuess finished 11th to earn a trip to Columbus as an individual. Kuess managed to distance himself just enough from many of the area runners he regularly competes against to claim one of the top 16 places.
The girls' race was almost a preview of next week's championship race, with four out of the five top-ranked teams in the state competing. One curious entrant was second-ranked Attica Seneca East, which is located 20 miles east of the Tiffin regional, but was instead sent 128 miles southwest to Troy instead.
While many were looking forward to a potential preview of the top two teams at next week's state meet, there was late week worry in the Minster camp as the flu bug struck much of the team Thursday and Friday. Suddenly the focus was not as much on winning the regional title as it was just earning the chance to attempt to win their sixth state championship in the last nine years.
"It was panic mode, mostly," stated Minster coach Jessie Magato. "Fortunately, most of them were sick prior to the race, so they were a little weak, but not sick this morning."
Seneca East did win the regional title handily, defeating Minster by 21 points and by an average time of 21 seconds per runner. The Lady Wildcats did hold on to defeat third-place Fort Loramie by 10 points and fourth place Versailles by 20.
"I think it is nice for us, now that we have advanced to state, that we got to race against Seneca East," added Magato. "It's just great to see some of your competition, along with Versailles and Fort Loramie."
While many Wildcats runners were turning in results far from their personal best times, freshman Sophia Richard continued her recent improvements.
"Sophia was number seven on the team at MAC, and during the season was running seventh, eighth or ninth," complimented Magato. "At district she was fourth and today she was second on our team. She is someone who stepped it up when it was needed."
Despite her great showing, Sophia seemed more concerned by the fact she finished seven-tenths of a second behind her goal of finishing in the top 16.
"I just missed by a little bit," explained Richard, who finished 17th by seven-tenths of a second. Sophia was one of the girls fighting the flu the last few days, but had obviously recovered. "I felt a hundred times better today."
Versailles will also be traveling to Scioto Downs next week as it finished an average of 23 seconds per runner faster than fifth-place Lincolnview. It was a strong team performance with six runners placing in the top 38 overall.
While the top five individual finishers in the race were freshmen or sophomores, Versailles' junior Mary Prakel was the top MAC performer, finishing 10th. Prakel felt her experience was a help, and also was happy to run against the tough competition.
"Any competition, no matter if you are young or old, helps," commented Prakel. "If we had an easy regional, then going to state would be a shock for us."
The Coldwater girls finished 10th in the team standings with Larissa Kohn leading the team by finishing 46th overall and Ashleigh Kahlig and Ashley Kanney close behind in 50th and 54th positions. Also finishing high in the standings was Fort Recovery's Tina Roessner, who finished in 41st place.
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