Members of the DeSales High School boys and girls cross country teams continue to try to come to grips with the sudden death of longtime coach Bob Lennon.
Lennon, 64, was killed Sept. 15 in a hit-and-run crash while riding his bicycle on Miller Paul Road in Galena.
On Sept. 18, the day before his funeral, the Stallions competed in Whetstone's Arrowhead Invitational. The boys team recorded its third consecutive top-four finish, amassing 140 points to place fourth of 17 teams behind champion Bexley (70), and the girls team finished eighth (197) of 16 teams as Bexley (42) won.
The Stallions wore black armbands with the words "run for Bob" in the meet. About 30 teachers came to the race, as well as principal Dan Garrick, athletics director Tom Neubert and the entire boys soccer and girls volleyball teams.
"We've been to regionals as a team the past two years and I thought that was big when I got 20 people to come out. But this was just incredible," senior Ian Lawson said of the support shown by faculty members and fellow student-athletes. "There are 1,000 questions running through your head just about cross country, let alone the rest of your life. It really was good to just get out there today and run."
Assistant coaches Emily Rizek and Katie Shelton will share head-coaching duties for the remainder of the season. Rizek, a 1999 DeSales graduate, ran for Lennon and has been on his staff for five years. Shelton, a guidance counselor at the school, has been on Lennon's staff since 2007.
Both also were friends of Lennon away from the sport, often biking with him.
"It's overwhelming," Shelton said. "(Lennon) would always say that Emily and I did so much for him and always thank us for everything, but he did everything for the team. He was the backbone. He did so much that we're overwhelmed right now thinking of everything we have to do, to organize and take over. We have a lot to take on."
Lawson led the boys team in the Arrowhead Invitational, placing seventh in 17 minutes, 21 seconds. Sophomore Creighton Barrett (10th, 17:31) was next, followed by junior Ben Hippler (37th, 19:09), senior Parker Beck (42nd, 19:20) and senior Anthony Hayes (44th, 19:22).
Barrett edged Lawson in the Central Ohio Invitational on Sept. 14 at Three Creeks Metro Park, placing fifth (17:26.95) as Lawson finished sixth (17:32.18).
"I was gone for a few weeks and when I got back to practice, (Barrett) was kicking my butt," said Lawson, who also is on the boys soccer team. "We've been up there with some good finishes, but we sure haven't hit our stride quite yet. We'll see where we are when districts roll out and if we have any chance at the top four (that advances to regional)."
Senior Kristin Faulkner led the girls team in the Arrowhead Invitational, placing 26th (21:43). Sophomore Logan Agin (27th, 21:53) was next, followed by sophomores Andrea Coffey (33rd, 22:19) and Claire Draminski (52nd, 23:33) and junior Bailey Cadena (55th, 23:52).
DeSales will compete in the Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic on Saturday, Sept. 28, at London Country Club.
According to Garrick, Lennon was pleased with the Stallions' recent performances. The two traded text messages the night before the Central Ohio Invitational, with Lennon promising to pass on results as he always did.
"They're young," Lennon told Garrick in one of the texts, "but I like this group."
Boys golf team takes 2nd in CCL tourney
Senior Danny Helin shot a 76 and senior Ben Dumm carded a 79 to lead the boys golf team to a second-place finish in the CCL postseason tournament Sept. 21 at Cooks Creek.
DeSales shot a 318 to finish behind St. Charles (304) and ahead of Hartley (328), Watterson (330) and Ready (348).
Also competing for the Stallions were sophomore Kyle Ransom (80) and juniors Chris Modie (83), Jacob Erwin (86) and Holden Chapman (111).
"The first four holes or so were ugly (because of heavy rain), but the guys really took off after that," coach Tom Eckl said. "It was a real strong round in challenging conditions on a course not many of our guys have played before. I was pretty happy with all of them."
DeSales competed in a 11-team Division II sectional Sept. 24 at Granville Golf Course. The Stallions were seeded 10th and their sectional included top-seeded Caledonia River Valley and third-seeded Bexley.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to district Monday, Sept. 30, at River Greens.
"We're looking forward to playing a course we're more familiar with," Eckl said of Granville. "I think we're starting to peak at the right time. The guys are confident in their abilities right now."
Football team faces major challenge
The football team will meet an opponent it never has faced before for the second consecutive week when it plays host to defending Division IV state champion Clarksville Clinton-Massie on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Stallions, who beat Toledo Rogers 41-20 on Sept. 20 to improve to 2-2, should be in for one of their toughest tests this season when they face Clinton-Massie. The Falcons, who were first in the Division IV state poll last week, defeated Greenfield McClain 62-0 on Sept. 20 to improve to 4-0.
DeSales' defense, which recovered two fumbles and intercepted three passes against Rogers, will be challenged by a Clinton-Massie running game featuring brothers Bayle Wolf and Chayse Wolf.
Bayle, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior, rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns in a 46-36 win over St. Clairsville in the state final last season.
In a 35-7 win over Jonathan Alder on Sept. 13, Bayle ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns and Chayse, a junior, had 88 yards rushing and two scores.
DeSales's offense, which was held to a combined seven points in its first two losses, had 265 total yards against Rogers, including 250 on the ground.
Running back Tucker Yinger rushed for 50 yards and quarterbacks Brandon Krietemeyer and Gage Righter and running backs Austin Andrews and Emmanuel Mawutor each scored a touchdown. Krietemeyer also threw a touchdown pass, connecting with wide receiver Luke Melsop for a 15-yard score.