Monday, October 27th, 2008
MAC teams finish near top at Troy
By Bruce Monnin
TROY - Area cross country teams faced a difficult test at the Division III regional meet at Troy.
None of the area boys' teams could overcome the champions from Russia, but the St. Henry, New Bremen and Minster teams all finished in the top four to advance to next week's state meet.
The girls' race was similar, as highly-ranked Attica Seneca East took three of the top four individual places in winning the regional title, while the teams from Minster and Versailles also advanced.
New Knoxville's Adam Wierwille and Coldwater's Alyssa Brunswick also earned the chance to compete in Columbus next week with fine individual performances.
The boys race saw the same four teams finish in the exact same order as they did last year. While Russia ran away with the race for the second straight year, it was St. Henry which showed the most improvement from last week, finishing ahead of the New Bremen and Minster squads who defeated them at the Spencerville district race.
"This is our course," proclaimed St. Henry coach Mike Eyink. "We run well here every year."
Senior Doug Ranly paced the Redskins with a fifth-place finish overall. He started out the race at a sensible pace and then worked his way toward the front as the race progressed.
"I felt amazing during the race," admitted Ranly. "I figured I would just keep moving on up as best that I could. Sometimes this race starts too quick, but once I hit the mile and a half mark, I knew I had to get to my spot and keep moving along."
While the runners at the front of the race get all the notice, it is the runners further back in the pack who often have as great or greater impact on the team standings. For St. Henry, it was junior Adam Rindler and freshman Kevin Knapke running great races in the fourth and fifth spots on the team and their performances sealed the Redskins' second-place team finish. Knapke knew the team race was going to be close and concentrated on not losing any ground down the homestretch.
"I just tried to hold them all off as well as I could," explained Knapke.
New Bremen's third-place finish results in its third trip to the state meet in the last four seasons. Last week's district champion, Justin Eilerman, led the Cardinals with a seventh-place finish, less than two seconds behind Ranly. The rest of the Cardinals' top five of Jeff Kremer, Zach Speckman, Kyle Knapke and Robert Franks all finished in the top 43 runners. Only the champions from Russia showed greater consistency.
The most drama at the finish regarded the status of the Minster Wildcats, who were in a fight to grab the fourth and final qualifying position for the state meet. Coach Larry Topp was worried, but was hopeful his team's strong finish would pull them through.
"Every guy held their place or passed people on the home stretch," noted Topp.
Indeed, top Wildcat Francis Slonkosky moved up from 33rd place early on to a 22nd-place finish. Next runner Joby Stechschulte passed a few runners near the end and fifth runner Tyler Richard broke into a veritable sprint at the finish, passing between six to eight runners in the last 100 yards or so. All those were needed, as Minster finished just two points ahead of Sidney Lehman and four points ahead of Yellow Springs to earn next week's trip to Columbus.
New Knoxville's Adam Wierwille will be joining the three Midwest Athletic Conference teams at the state meet as he qualified with his 14th-place finish. The Coldwater team (led by Alex Gray in 27th place) finished in seventh overall while Versailles (led by 58th place Brian Bohman) finished 12th.
The girls' race was potentially a preview of next weeks championship race, with all four of the top-ranked teams (and five of the top six) in the state competing. Just like the boys' race, the four teams who advanced to the state meet were the same four who did so a year ago.
Attica Seneca East repeated as regional champions, defeating Minster by 14 points on the strength of having individuals finish first, second and fourth. The Lady Wildcats closed the gap by having all five of their runners finish before the fourth and fifth runners from Seneca East, but it was not enough to win the race.
"It was an eye opener," admitted Minster coach Jessie Magoto. "We've been watching Seneca East all along, and they are the real deal."
Minster was led again this week by senior Lei Bornorst (who finished 6th) and junior Jessica Albers (who finished 9th). They provide the leadership and experience for a young squad including two freshmen, Samantha Hoelscher (17th) and Kayla Albers (53rd), as well as sophomores Averie Bornhorst (22nd), Sophia Richard (24th) and Maria Dahlinghaus (35th).
"Our biggest focus was to get everybody healthy and qualified for state," continued Magoto. "That's what you are looking for all season, to get to the state meet. Now it's just relax and go after it, because they've accomplished so much already."
Versailles will also be traveling to Scioto Downs next week as they finished third this year, giving themselves a little more breathing room than last year's fourth-place finish. Freshman Tammy Berger led all MAC runners at the meet, finishing third best, right between the second and third Seneca East runners.
The Coldwater girls finished sixth overall in the team standings with times that would have qualified them for the state meet in two of the other three Division III regionals. Freshman Alyssa Brunswick led the team by finishing 12th overall, good enough to qualify for the state meet as an individual.
"I kept saying to myself to go faster," described Brunswick. "After two miles, I had to pick it up or I wouldn't have made it to state. So I kept trying to look at the person in front of me and make surges to catch them."
The Fort Recovery girls finished 13th of the 16 teams at regionals. The Indians were led by senior Tina Roessner in 62nd place.