Matt Scrape of the Pickerington High School Central boys cross country team said he altered his training this season, and when the junior looks back at the results, he probably won't complain.

Matt Scrape of the Pickerington High School Central boys cross country team said he altered his training this season, and when the junior looks back at the results, he probably won't complain.

Scrape finished second in the Division I state meet Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway, leading the Tigers in the team's first state appearance since 2002. His time of 15 minutes, 8.1 seconds was .02 of a second off the school record he set Oct. 8 in the Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington.

Liberty Township Lakota East's Dustin Horter won the individual championship in 15:02.8.

"I did less mileage and faster workouts," Scrape said. "This is incredible. I have been looking forward to this all year. Obviously, I wanted to be at the top, but second is pretty good. I knew Dustin would take the lead and push as hard as he could for as long as he could. He did. It was all about hanging on."

Central finished eighth (216) behind champion Solon (79) as 20 teams scored.

Also scoring for the Tigers were senior Jack Jaynes (16th, 15:36.7), sophomores Brady Johnson (36th, 15:58.1) and Tyler Gunderson (133rd, 16:54.6) and senior Chris Siebert (143rd, 17:04.3). Sophomore Jacob Jobe finished 183rd (18:13) and classmate Brayden Harlor was 185th (18:48.1) as 186 runners competed.

"We are very happy," coach Andy Fischer said. "We didn't know what to expect team-wise. Our top guys ran really well and the guys further back ran strong. They ran good times even though they were farther back. The state meet is just that high-caliber. To me, eighth out of 20 is just phenomenal."

It was the Tigers' 10th state appearance as a team. Central won the Division I title in 1997, and also recorded top-10 finishes in 1991 (fourth), 1998 (eighth) and 1999 (third).

"We have a good number of sophomores, and this will give them a good experience and knowledge of what to expect," Fischer said. "It gives you motivation. They know they can be good, but now they have a glimpse of what it takes to be great. I think it will set them up well. They deserve a bit of a break. They've had a great season."

In the Division I girls state meet, sophomore Lauren Marvin finished 56th (19:11.9) of 178 runners. Marvin, who had to rest for several minutes after the race because of what she called an upset stomach, was the girls team's only state representative.

"The only part that was tricky was out in the field where it seemed long, but once I got into the woods, I enjoy running in the woods so it seemed downhill from there," Marvin said. "I am pretty sure I moved up a little bit because that is generally how my races go. I always seem to start farther back.

"I suppose I have reached (my goal) because my goal was to come to the state meet."

The boys and girls teams both finished second in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 15 at Newark. The boys scored 56 points, as did Gahanna, but lost on the sixth-runner tiebreaker to place ahead of Lancaster (58), Pickerington North (78), Reynoldsburg (133) and Grove City (159).

The girls scored 54 points to finish behind Gahanna (26) and ahead of North (79), Lancaster (94), Grove City (114) and Reynoldsburg (162).

Both teams also finished third in the district 3 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial. The boys had 78 points to finish behind champion Gahanna (67) as 18 teams scored, and the girls scored 94 to finish behind champion Gahanna (51) as 14 teams scored.

The top five teams and top 20 individuals from the boys race advanced to regional Oct. 29 at North, and the top six teams and top 24 individuals from the girls race qualified. Scrape won the district title in 15:21.55.

At regional, the boys had 173 points to edge Gahanna by two points for the fifth and final team state berth. The Tigers finished behind champion Thomas Worthington (71) as 15 teams scored.

On the girls side, Central was 13th (271) behind champion Gahanna (97) as 16 teams scored.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

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