Senior Andrew Johnston and the Olentangy Liberty High School boys cross country team had improved performances in the Division I state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
Johnston earned all-state honors by finishing 10th (15 minutes, 46.87 seconds) behind champion Mark Hadley (15:10.63) of Youngstown Boardman. The top 25 finishers were all-state.
In the team standings, the Patriots finished 12th (265 points) of 16 teams behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (46).
Last season, Johnston finished 35th (15:57.9) and the Patriots were 14th behind champion St. Xavier.
Despite the improvement, Johnston said he wasn't at his best.
"I felt like crap and didn't feel into it at all," he said. "I just kept my head up and kept going, and tried to finish as high as I could."
Senior Josh Wojciechowski (60th, 16:32.64) was next for the Patriots, followed by senior Chatham Anderson (86th, 16:43.09), sophomore Mitchell Towne (115th, 17:11.28), junior Cameron Lackey (127th, 17:31.11), senior Brad Wiemels (137th, 17:41.85) and senior Daniel Parsons (140th, 17:47.2).
"I couldn't be more proud of their efforts," said coach Jared Mills, who was given the Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award from the OHSAA. "Every one of them gave every ounce of energy."
Liberty's Wiles finishes 12th
Liberty junior Claire Wiles earned all-state honors by finishing 12th (18:55) in the Division I girls state meet behind champion Annie Heffernan (18:13.9) of Cincinnati St. Ursula.
"I wanted to get out fast and stay with (the front pack)," Wiles said. "There wasn't a headwind like last week (at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North). It was painful to run there."
Last year, Wiles finished 53rd (19:03.22) in her first trip to state.
"I was really nervous last year, but was more confident this time," she said. "I'm pretty pleased with my time."
Mason (76) won the team title ahead of runner-up Beavercreek (107).
Olentangy girls continue growth
The Olentangy girls team had five freshmen, one sophomore and one junior compete in the Division I, district 3 race Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial.
The Braves finished eighth (182) of 17 teams behind champion Upper Arlington (64) as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to regional. Dublin Coffman (148) earned the final regional berth as a team.
Freshman Camryn Stobart (27th, 20:31.15) led Olentangy, followed by freshman Chloe Murdock (36th, 20:55.49), sophomore Sarah Speck (38th, 20:59.36), freshman Ashton Benson (39th, 20:59.92), junior Logan Augustine (42nd, 21:02.84), freshman Katie King (53rd, 21:21.69) and freshman Ireland Fallona (64th, 22:04.6).
Olentangy had eight seniors in Kelley Allenstein, Mackenzie Freeman, Erin Hughes, Abby King, Sydney Poehler, Katy Rodriquez, Jenny Stabl and Katy Tanner.
"Seven of our eight seniors have been in the program all four years and they offered their leadership and expertise to a very young team," said coach Dwight Dewese, who completed his 11th season. "They have also been a large part of the growth of the program. When they started as freshmen, the team numbered in the 20s and now as seniors they were leading 52 girls."
The Braves finished third (62) in the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 12 at Pickerington Central behind New Albany (29) and Worthington Kilbourne (38) and ahead of Delaware (113), Orange (144), Big Walnut (173) and Mount Vernon (189).
Murdock led Olentangy by finishing ninth (21:21.36).
"I am very excited about the future," Dewese said. "We graduate eight seniors, but Shanahan Middle School had 25-plus eighth-grade girls this year who were part of a very successful team and Berkshire has several others that we hope will be a part of the team next year. We very well could have 70-plus girls running next year."
Orange boys team reaches 1st regional
The Orange boys team finished 13th (311) of 16 teams in the Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North behind champion Dublin Jerome (66). It was the first regional appearance for the fifth-year program.
Sophomore Brandon Morrow (29th, 16:51.46) led the Pioneers, followed by freshman Brandon Lane (64th, 17:22.84), junior Kyle Benecke (72nd, 17:32.64), freshman Hunter Moore (73rd, 17:32.7), senior Cameron Flesch (111th, 18:17.37), freshman Tommy Heiden (115th, 18:23.16) and freshman Matt Hartzell (116th, 18:26.79).
The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional advanced to state.
"It was a great first season (for me), with all of our team goals being met," coach Adam Walters said. "The experience our young guys had at their first regional meet will be extremely beneficial next year."
In the 14-team district 1 race, Morrow (18th, 17:06.01) led the way as Orange finished fifth (125) to claim the final regional-qualifying spot behind Hilliard Davidson (29), New Albany (46), Thomas Worthington (94) and Pickerington North (112).
Orange finished third (68) in the OCC-Capital meet behind New Albany (27) and Olentangy (48) and ahead of Kilbourne (123), Mount Vernon (141), Delaware (150), Big Walnut (197) and Franklin Heights (227).
Morrow (fifth, 16:53.48) led the Pioneers in the league race.
"With such a young team, our two senior captains, Tyler Young and Cameron Flesch, really left their mark on this program by helping create a great culture that will lead to a lot of future success for the team," Walters said. "They exhibited incredible leadership and I was very thankful for them this year."