Cross Country

Westerville North duo have stress-free day

Dumford, Ford team up to dominate regional; Hilliard Davidson, Granville enjoy big days

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Braving blustery winds, Westerville North teammates Jacob Dumford and Kent Ford coasted down the homestretch of the Division I regional cross country meet at Pickerington North without the slightest sign of discomfort.

“We weren’t trying to beat each other,” said Dumford, who won the race in 15 minutes, 51.81 seconds, followed by Ford 0.14 of a second behind. “Some meets I let him win, and some meets he lets me win. Kent won the district last week, so I guess it was my turn today.“Both of us were really fresh. I think we could have run a lot faster if we had some competition up there with us. The only goal we had was to come here and get the job done.”

The dominating one-two finish powered the Warriors to the team title with 79 points. Hilliard Davidson (88), Olentangy Liberty (108) and New Albany (114) also advanced to the state meet on Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville.

“Jake and I ran together pretty much the whole way, and with about 600 meters to go, we took off and nobody went with us,” Ford said.

Westerville North coach Dave Weaner said he warned Dumford and Ford not to overextend themselves in a bid for the individual title.

“We just want to get to the state (meet) healthy and not deal with pulled hamstrings or anything like that,” Weaner said. “Obviously, any time you get a one-two finish, it bodes well for the team’s chances. But I credit our fifth man, Seth Wenrick, for ultimately winning this for us. We held out our usual No. 5, Evan Larrick, because of some tightness in his leg, and Seth really came through.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

Hilliard Davidson entered as the slight favorite, but coach Pat Schlecht was quick to point out that last year’s regional runner-up, Dublin Coffman, won the state title.

“We had some bits and pieces of good today, but we left a lot of room for improvement for the state,” Schlecht said.

In Division II, Granville bagged five of the top 16 places to blow away the field with 44 points. It marked the Blue Aces’ first regional title.

“It’s amazing how far these boys have come in the last 18 months,” Granville coach Dave Agosta said. “They have bought in to what we want to do, and each of them is about 30 to 40 seconds faster.“We don’t talk much about our goals, but it’s pretty obvious we’re coming on at the right time.”

Senior Tyler Otterstedt, who paced Granville with a third-place finish (16:36.76), said the team has been pointing to a state title since early summer, and yesterday’s performance only reinforced those goals.

“I think we’re going to blow it open at the state,” he said.

Liberty Union (142) and Grandview (145) grabbed the third and fourth state-qualifying spots in Division III. Liberty Union ran with a purpose after its No. 2 runner, Colton Roth, suffered multiple leg fractures in an auto accident on Friday.

On the girls side, Hilliard Davidson put forth an excellent effort in taking the Division I title with 50 points. Upper Arlington (113), Dublin Coffman (115) and Dublin Scioto (129) also advanced.

“We executed our race plan to perfection,” Davidson coach Nate King said. “The girls have rallied around their training, and they truly run for each other. The kids are fit and focused, and they’re really confident in their chances next week.”

Winning the individual race was sophomore Leah Wallace of Reynoldsburg in 18:44.9.

“I kept telling myself that if I win this race, it will serve as a real confidence builder for the state,” Wallace said. “I hoped to stick with the leaders for the first mile and see what happens. I felt really good, took the lead and pretty much led the whole way.”

In Division II, Proctorville Fairland edged Granville 99-102 for the title. Sarra Taylor of London, the defending state champion, was the top individual in 18:50.55.

“Honestly, I just wanted to make it to state,” Taylor said. “I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. Last year was last year, and this year is this year. I ran well today. Cold weather is my thing. I like it.”

Mount Gilead won the Division III title with 92 points. Columbus Academy (104) and Grandview (110) also qualified to state by placing third and fourth, respectively.

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