The cross country season is full of unpredictable weather conditions. One meet is run under blue skies, the next in chilling winds and torrential rain.
Olentangy Orange High School girls coach Ingrid Simpson said the multitude of possibilities are just part of getting a team ready for the postseason.
One example was the Otterbein Invitational on Sept. 22, a race that had to be rerouted because of standing water at the starting line and on various other points of the course. "After rain (on Sept. 21) the ground was soaking wet and it was like a lake in the middle of the course," Simpson said. "That's kind of the fun thing about it. You never know what to expect when you go to compete. I know they had to adjust the middle and the start of the course because of the water."
The Pioneers finished sixth (148) of 12 teams behind champion Dublin Coffman (35). Hannah Hartzell led Orange by finishing fourth (20 minutes, 2.2 seconds), followed by Brooke Pulkrabek (29th, 21:12.8), Alana Stillion (31st, 21:15.5), Anna Dove (44th, 21:40.8), Madison Clarkson (54th, 21:59.8), Skylar Tucker (69th, 22:20) and Hannah Dieker (74th, 22:27.8).
"We had never run that course before, so the girls went over to run it the Monday (Sept. 17) before the race," Simpson said. "They loved the course, but not that the (practice) run helped much because the conditions changed so much."
On Sept. 29, the Pioneers finished fifth (146) in the 14-team Division I race of the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club behind champion Liberty (52).
Hartzell (third, 19:31.48) led Orange, followed by Pulkrabek (18th, 21:07.53), Clarkson (31st, 21:38.38), Tucker (40th, 22:05.33), Dove (54th, 22:42.17), Dieker (60th, 22:57.41) and Allison Priest (75th, 24:00.47).
"As a team, we have been competing very well," Simpson said. "We've been doing well while going up against some of the best teams in central Ohio, which are also some of the best teams in the state."
Liberty girls win at London
The Liberty girls team finished first (52) in the 14-team Division I race of the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic ahead of runner-up Gahanna (55).
Claire Wiles won in 19:20.51, as the first seven runners for the Patriots finished in the top 20. Claire Linn (10th, 20:38.33) was next for Liberty, followed by Stephanie Paul (12th, 20:50.82), Kylie Spring (13th, 20:52), Sarah Miller (16th, 21:04.96), Hannah Wishart (19th, 21:09.21) and Mhairi Johnston (20th, 21:15.76).
"The times were kind of slower in general because of some hills at the end (of the course)," coach Kaitlin Raver said. "I'm happy with the team's performance in general, especially with their pack-running. They did just what we asked of them going into the race.
"We were in it to win it and that will help us gear up for OCCs, district, regional and hopefully state. That's our goal and hopefully it comes together for us in the end."
Liberty boys highly ranked
The Liberty boys team has been getting state recognition, as the Patriots were seventh in the Division I state poll released Sept. 27. Cincinnati St. Xavier was No. 1.
Central Ohio had five of the top eight teams with Hilliard Davidson (third), Dublin Jerome (fifth), Westerville North (sixth) and New Albany (eighth) also ranked.
On Sept. 29, the Patriots finished second (65) in the 10-team varsity race of the Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley behind Westerville North (36).
Mitchell Towne (sixth, 17:09.52) led Liberty followed by Jack Schoettmer (seventh, 17:10.56), Christian Myklebust (12th, 17:31.59), Nick Mockler (14th, 17:33.52), Kian Worcester (26th, 18:02.74), Joe McConaghy (28th, 18:03.82) and Ryan Heckman (46th, 18:31.24).
"There might have been seven of the top 15 teams in the state there," coach Jared Mills said. "There were really good teams from other regions around the state as well as in central Ohio. We always look forward to that meet every year and we saw teams that we normally might not see until the state meet, should we get that far."
Olentangy boys remain consistent
The Olentangy boys team finished third (89) in the 15-team Division I race of the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic behind Pickerington North (43) and St. Charles (80).
Tyler Grover (second, 16:52.97) led the Braves, followed by Chase Benson (fourth, 16:56.22), Corey Standerwick (13th, 17:33.55), Ryan Thede (31st, 17:54.85), Sam Watson (39th, 18:02.56), Andrew Torti (41st, 18:03.58) and Charles Rodeheffer (44th, 18:06.53).
"We have been pretty consistent," coach Mike Moran said.
"Tyler Grover and Chase Benson have been very good and Corey Standerwick, Ryan Thede, Andrew Torti and Sam Watson have been fluctuating from No. 3 to No. 6 for us, and Charles Rodeheffer has been solid every meet."