Notebook: Seniors kept Bexley cross country teams on course
Coach Eric Acton couldn’t help but smile after the performances from his Bexley boys and girls cross country teams in the Division II state meet Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz.
The Lions had reached the annual pinnacle of their sport and were taking time to savor the accomplishment.
Acton said the credit goes to the seniors on both teams.
“The seniors have done a lot for the program,” said Acton, who completed his 33rd season. “They enjoyed the journey, and they enjoyed the day. They’re all competitors and they came out and enjoyed it.
“The seniors were like collies this year. They were just like herder dogs. They kept them focused and they made sure everyone felt welcome.”
The boys finished 16th (323 points) of 19 teams at state behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (113). The girls squad was making its fifth consecutive trip to state and finished 10th (250) of 20 teams behind champion Lexington (113).
“Although I thought it wasn’t my best race, it was great to go out with the team one last time and have a race to celebrate this entire season,” senior Rob Donahey said. “It was a great feeling to be out there running against the top runners in the state.”
Sophomore John Laing was 78th in 17 minutes, 14.5 seconds to lead the boys team, followed by senior Spencer Stevenson (88th, 17:22.0), freshman Solomon McDow (93rd, 17:24.0), Donahey (104th, 17:36.2), junior Miller MacDonald (108th, 17:42.7), senior Elliot Roe (121st, 17:54.2) and freshman Athanasius Young (139th, 18:17.7).
“We’re beyond thrilled with the way they finished,” Acton said. “They ran within themselves. You don’t have to go into this race and try to be the winner at the mile mark. What you have to do is go run the way that got you here.
“What a tough place to run that well. When you get into a race at this level, everybody around you, they’re the best in the state. So what happens, some kids panic a little bit and they’re like, ‘Why are all of these people around me at the mile and still around at the two mile?’ Then they think, ‘I’m running slow and I gotta go faster.’ But we got them prepped for that, and they ran good races.”
The boys team had a spread of 28 seconds between its first and fifth runners. The separation was 13 seconds at the regional Oct. 31 at Pickerington North, 10 seconds at district Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby and 19 seconds in the MSL-Ohio Division race Oct. 17 at Buckeye Valley.
“We knew we had it in us (to go to state) when we were at (the) league (meet), coming through with 19 seconds between our first and our fifth (runners),” Donahey said. “It really showed us how good we could be in the postseason. Great races at district and regional really solidified that for us. When 20-some seconds is a bad day (in terms of spread), I can be happy with that.”
The girls were led by junior Claire MacDonald (34th, 19:38.9), and she was followed by seniors Maria Steinke (49th, 19:54.8) and Karleigh Place (89th, 20:36.5), sophomore Rylee Barno (103rd, 20:52.0), seniors Ally Grieshop (107th, 20:58.1) and Hannah Hayden (117th, 21:14.9) and sophomore Lily Keller (129th, 21:29.8).
The Lions continued their string of multiple league titles, as the girls won their fourth consecutive league championship and the boys earned their second in a row.
Acton couldn’t heap enough praise on his senior girls.
“These girls have been the most successful group of seniors to come through here,” he said. “They’ve won four leagues, they’ve won a couple of districts and they went to state four years in a row.
“As long as they keep passing the baton and keeping the legacy alive, we’ll have what it takes to be here in November. Everyone wants to be here in November. It’s a fun race.”
•Freshman Fabi Corso finished 47th in 19:53.4 while competing as an individual for the Columbus School for Girls cross country team in the Division II state meet.
“Fabi was 67th after a mile and in 56th at the two-mile, so she kept moving up the whole time,” said first-year coach Rob VanCleve, whose team did not have any seniors. “She had a solid first high school season.
“Runners go a little over their heads at state and she did, but she adjusted and did well. She knew her times were a little off her goal time, but she didn’t let that affect her.”
Corso qualified for state by finishing 18th (20:05.3) at regional, and she was fifth (19:28.2) in the district 1 race at Darby as the Unicorns were fourth (125) behind champion Granville (29).
Junior Lauren Sloan (22nd, 21:44.8), freshmen Ella Chomic (24th, 21:50.5) and Grace Chomic (25th, 21:50.5) and junior Esther Woda (50th, 23:59.1) also scored.
Corso was third (20:05.1) in the MSL-Ohio race as CSG finished fourth (99).
•Owen Karas placed 29th (16:08.9) competing as an individual for the St. Charles cross country team in the Division I state meet.
The senior advanced to state by finishing second (15:52.7) in the regional meet and had the best time in all of the district races when he won the district 3 title in 15:37.2.
The Cardinals finished 16th (354) in district 3 with seniors Colin Hayter (71st, 17:48.7) and Will Borchers (88th, 18:08.0) and juniors Daniel Ferguson (96th, 18:17.4) and William Ferris (98th, 18:19.2) also scoring.
Karas, who won the CCL race in 15:22.3 on Oct. 17 at St. Matthew Athletic Fields, set the program record of 15:12.9 while finishing second in the Central Ohio Invitational on Sept. 19 at Three Creeks Metro Park.
BEXLEY CROSS COUNTRY
•MSL-Ohio standings: Boys — Bexley (35), Columbus Academy (50), Grandview (64), Buckeye Valley (87), Worthington Christian (131) Whitehall (181), Wellington (189); Girls — Bexley (30), Buckeye Valley (54), Grandview (78), Columbus School for Girls (99), Academy (104), Whitehall (170)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Samson Adler, Rob Donahey, Atticus Keels, Ryan Kemp, Gavin Levine, Philip Luehmann, Thomas Miller, Jude Nathan, Aidan O’Dell, William Petry, Elliot Roe, William Ross, Samuel Schulman and Spencer Stevenson; Girls — Isabel Bowling, Ally Grieshop, Hannah Hayden, Kayleigh Place, Maria Steinke and Leah Tadese
•Key returnees: Boys — Miller MacDonald, John Laing, Solomon McDow and Athanasius Young; Girls — Rylee Barno, Lily Keller and Claire MacDonald
•Postseason: Boys — Second (67) at district behind Heath (47), fourth (177) at regional behind champion Chillicothe Unioto (75), 16th (323) at state behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (113); Girls — First (41) at district, third (93) at regional behind champion Granville (60), 10th (250) at state behind champion Lexington (113)
CSG CROSS COUNTRY
•Seniors lost: None
•Key returnees: Ella Chomic, Grace Chomic, Fabi Corso, Lauren Sloan and Esther Woda
•Postseason: Fourth (125) at district behind champion Granville (29)
ST. CHARLES CROSS COUNTRY
•CCL standings: DeSales (44), Watterson (45), St. Charles (56), Hartley (94), Ready (140)
•Seniors lost: Luke Blubaugh, Will Borchers, Nate Foster, Benjamin Franz, Spencer Greene, Colin Hayter, Owen Karas, Nicholas Lusky, Brennan O’Brien and Iiam Qinlan
•Key returnees: Andrew Dunn, Daniel Ferguson and William Ferris
•Postseason: 16th (354) at district behind champion Lancaster (91)