TROY — Expectations are high each year for Eaton’s cross country program with the goal for both the boys and girls teams to conclude their season at state.
This year the Eagles will have two individuals finish their season on the state course, but team wise Eaton fell just short of its goal.
Senior Kolby Hamilton finished eighth in 16 minutes, 46.9 seconds to move on and sophomore Tanner Davis was 11th in 16:51.7.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams finished one spot away from a state berth at the Division II Troy Regional on Saturday, Oct. 29.
In the boys’ race, Eaton finished fifth with 113 points, behind Carroll (55 points), Oakwood (79), Cincinnati Indian Hill (93) and Cincinnati Madeira (105).
On the girls’ side, Eaton was fifth with 135 points, behind Cincinnati Mercy McAuley (74), Carroll (79), Waynesville (86) and Oakwood (119).
The top four teams in each race advanced to state.
“For our team and program we are proud and honored to be represented next week at the state championships by two young men that qualified to the Division II championship race earning first team all-regional honors,” Eaton coach Randy McKinney said. “Kolby Hamilton placed 8th overall and Tanner Davis placed 11th overall. This is Kolby’s second state meet appearance, he also qualified in 2020, while this will be the first trip to the championship meet for Tanner.”
The top 16 individuals overall qualified to the state meet.
“I’m excited about the upcoming weekend and what they will both be able to accomplish,” McKinney said. “The hard part, just getting there, is over now they just have to prepare as we fine tune them for the upcoming meet in Obetz.”
McKinney said the regional meet provided mixed emotions.
“For the teams our regional championship meet was rewarding and disappointing all at the same time,” he said. “When you qualify to the regional meet you are already one of a very elite group of teams that have earned that opportunity. The majority of cross country programs ended their season the week prior at the district championships. Regardless of how you finish up at the regional meet that alone is a major accomplishment most programs across the state never accomplish.”
This was the fourth straight trip both teams advanced to the regional and McKinney sees that alone as an accomplishment.
“For our program it was the fourth consecutive year the men and women’s teams have qualified to this level. What a great accomplishment for both programs,” he said. “The disappointing part is when you qualify and finish as that first team out of advancing on to the state championships.”
Both the men and women’s teams earned their respective opportunities to compete at the regional with their team runner-up finishes the week prior at the district championships.
“We knew going in that for us the meet really came down to competing for that fourth position for both teams (the last qualifying team position) to earn the opportunity to go to state,” McKinney said. “The women’s race was pretty simple, we had to have a very solid team race and hope that Carroll was not able to put together a strong team race or that Oakwood might falter enough for us to earn one of the top four spots. Carroll had a great race, Oakwood did falter a little, but we just couldn’t counter either of those teams enough to make up the point difference between fourth and fifth place. Cross Country is a unique sport in that once the race starts we can’t call a time, regroup with a counter strategy, so all you can do is control your own race.”
Overall, the girls had a solid team race. Senior Lauren Guiley led the Lady Eagles with a 17th place individual finish, just one spot from qualifying individually, running her best race ever on the regional course.
Senior Kaili Hewitt followed with a strong 22nd place finish, Kiera Elliott placed 29th overall for the Eagles. All three earning 2nd Team All-Regional honors.
Sophomore Emily Haynes placed 43rd, followed by Junior Cami McCloud 45th and Sophomore Addi Guiley placed 50th. All three earning All-Regional Honorable mention honors.
Senior Rylie Haynes placed 54th to round out the seven finishers for the Lady Eagles.
McKinney said the boys were in a similar position as the girls.
“The men’s’ race was similar to the women’s race. Going in, based on times from the week prior, we were sitting in 5th place,” McKinney said. “We knew that Oakwood and Carroll were automatics with Indian Hill a solid third place. So, the race come down to how we could stack up with Madeira. The boys ran a strong team race, but in the end finished eight points behind Madeira with a very strong showing.”
The men’s team was led by Hamilton and Davis, who earned First Team All-Regional honors.
“Kolby and Tanner did a great job going out, hanging on and pushing through the top 15 in the last mile of the race to finish strong,” McKinney said. “For Kolby this will be his second appearance at the state championships, he last qualified two years ago.”
Senior James Baker was the next Eagle finishing a strong 21st place running his fastest time of the season. Junior Bradley Gifford was next placing 35th overall, followed by freshman Jack Richardson 48th, freshman Wes Kitchin 56th and junior Nick Laycox 72nd overall.
“We showed up, competed and finished a little short of our season goal with both teams,” McKinney said. “Having two Eagles to represent us this weekend is exciting and the both teams will rally around each of the two young men and support them as a program as they finish up their respective seasons. Great regular season for both teams, but not over yet.”
Hamilton and Davis will run Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park