In its first trip to the Division III state meet since 2012, the Grandview Heights High School boys cross country team had the program's best finish, much to the delight of third-year coach Chris Szabo.
On Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway, the Bobcats placed eighth (261 points) of 20 teams behind champion East Canton (120) in their ninth trip to state. In 1998, the girls team finished fifth for the best finish for both programs.
Senior Liam Kerr earned all-state honors by finishing 17th of 183 runners in 16 minutes, 24.2 seconds. The top 20 runners earned that distinction.
"I was pleased with the eighth-place finish, which is the highest for the boys at the state meet," Szabo said. "Liam wanted to finish higher and was hoping for maybe second place, but anything can happen at state. He still ran a great race."
Kerr expected a better performance after winning regional and district titles the previous two weeks.
"I'm happy with my career, just not this race," said Kerr, who won the regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North in 16:25.0. "I don't think I ran my best race because I had a side cramp. You expect it sometimes. I tried to stop it, but I couldn't stop it this time."
Freshman Derek Amicon (50th, 16:55.3) and sophomore Chris Miller (51st, 16:55.7) were next for the Bobcats, followed by senior Eli Hall (114th, 17:48.0), sophomore Luke Wallace (161st, 18:49.1), junior Quinn Tillett (176th, 19:33.2) and senior Andrew Bergmann (177th, 19:33.2).
"Senior Eli Hall had a great race to cap his career and sophomore Luke Wallace also had a great race for us," Szabo said. "Everyone ran well and they have a lot to be proud of."
Junior Nina Amicon represented the girls team, finishing 53rd (20:15.4) in her first trip to state.
"This is my first year running," she said. "I did soccer my freshman year and I was injured (hip) last year, so I didn't get to run at all.
"I really loved it, it was awesome. I'm a junior, so I'll run next year and I'm looking forward to it. I just need to continue to work. My coaches are really looking to that. That's what I did this year and it went well."
At regional, the boys finished fourth (114 points) of 16 teams behind champion Leesburg Fairfield (75) as the top five teams advanced to state. The girls finished seventh (191) of 16 teams behind champion Mount Gilead (40), while Nina Amicon was seventh (20:05.27) to advance as an individual.
Sophomore Annie Volker (45th, 21:30.07), senior Sarah Marrone (51st, 21:34.39), sophomore Emmalyn Kukura (55th 21:40.67), senior Avani Kumar (97th, 23:16.35) and sophomore Amelia Sturbois (107th, 23:55.76) also ran at regional.
Kerr won the district 2 race in a program-record 15:54.92 on Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, breaking the mark of 16:00.11 that 2014 graduate Luke Evans set in his senior season on the same course.
The boys team was runner-up (84) behind Columbus Academy (42) to move on to regional, and the girls team was third (98) behind Fredericktown (46) and Centerburg (68) to advance.
Both teams finished second in the MSL-Ohio Division meet Oct. 14 at London. The boys (50) finished behind Academy (40) and ahead of Bexley (72), Worthington Christian (91), London (110) and Whitehall (157) as Kerr was runner-up in 16:28.7.
The girls (54) finished behind Bexley (31) and ahead of Academy (79), Whitehall (105), London (124) and Worthington Christian (133) as Nina Amicon was fourth (20:25.7).
"I'm so proud of all of them and how this program is evolving and continuing to build every year," Szabo said. "All of it starts with hard work and now they know what it takes to reach (the state) level."