HEBRON — Surrounded by a slew of fast runners in their respective races, Matt Duvall of Pickerington North and Derek Amicon of Grandview knew they would have to come up with something special to take home victories in the state cross country championships Nov. 2.
For Duvall, it was a pair of timely moves that put away his competition in the Division I field.
“It went pretty much as I planned,” Duvall said after winning in 15 minutes, 13 seconds at National Trail Raceway. “I threw in a surge at the 2-mile on a downhill that got rid of a few contenders. With 300 meters, there were just three of us left, and I knew I just had to beat them to the finish.”
Duvall, a four-time state qualifier, had assumed a prerace role as favorite. He was seventh last year and the top six finishers graduated.
“It’s everything I ever dreamed of,” Duvall said.
Amicon kicked past Demetrius Snellenberger of East Canton in the final 50 meters to stun the Division III field. His time was 15:42.5.
“I know people probably thought I came out of nowhere to win today, but I’ve done this three races in a row, and I really thought I had a chance of this coming in,” the junior said.
“I had it in my mind that I had to stick with Demetrius the whole way. Every time he surged, I’d stick with him. As we came down the homestretch, I thought I had one more gear in me. Once I got a step past him, I knew I had it.”
Added Grandview coach Chris Szabo, “This is not a shock to me. Derek is just a tough kid with another gear.”
Cincinnati St. Xavier edged runner-up Mason 92-97 for the Division I title. Gahanna placed fourth (227), Pickerington North fifth (230) and Hilliard Davidson seventh (239).
Individually, central Ohio runners shined, claiming five of the top eight places.
Elliott Cook of Dublin Jerome took fourth (15:34.3), Harper Moore of Pickerington North sixth (15:36.6), Tanner Williams of Worthington Kilbourne seventh (15:40.7) and Alex Dediu of Dublin Coffman eighth (15:41.3). Sean Carney of Hilliard Darby was 15th (15:47.9).
“The top three guys were really flooring it on the downhill at the 2-mile, and I lost contact with them a little,” Cook said. “I’m really happy with how I raced, though. I’ve been on Matt’s tail most of the season, and I knew I was at least in the conversation of being a contender.”
Williams and Dediu, both seniors, committed to Ohio State virtually together and they finished that way, as well.
“I was just trying to hold on to Duvall as long as I could,” Williams said. “I was shooting for top three, but I know that was ambitious. I was shooting for the stars and landed on the moon. I’ll take that.”
Dediu, who placed 114th as a sophomore and failed to qualify a year ago, said he was running for redemption.
“That was a loaded field, and to do that well, I’m thrilled,” he said.
Pemberville Eastwood won the Division II title with 37 points. Chillicothe Unioto was runner-up (115) and Heath took third (160).
“We knew Pemberville was in another world, but we thought we were in the bunch of five or six shooting for second,” Heath coach Scott Brown said. “Third is the best in our program history.”
Caleb Brown of Shelby won easily in 15:01.1. Xavier Foehl of Heath was the top area finisher, surging from 10th to fourth (15:48.7) in the final quarter-mile.
“I wasn’t feeling very good with about 1,000 (meters) left, but I convinced myself that this was my last race and I had to leave it all out there,” the senior Walsh commit said. “I don’t know where it came from, honestly.”
Cincinnati Summit Country Day captured the Division III title with 98 points. Mount Gilead (112) was runner-up.
“We came in ranked No. 1 and that’s a little nerve racking,” Mount Gilead coach Jake Hayes said. “If our best is second, we’ll go home happy with our effort. We tied our girls (in 2017) for the best school finish, and the guys are happy with that.”
Thomas Caputo of Fredericktown took sixth (16:05.5) and Liam Dennis of Mount Gilead was seventh (16:16.2).