OBETZ — Northmont’s Dominic Lopez capped off an outstanding freshman year by finishing 55th overall Saturday at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I State Cross Country Championship race at Fortress Obetz.
Lopez was among just 10 freshmen in the field of 182 runners to qualify for state. Of those ten, Lopez was the fastest finisher with a time of 16:15.20.
“Dominic is such a dedicated runner. He comes into practice and wants to run and wants to run hard every day,” said Northmont coach Joe Barnes. “He does everything you ask of him. He just wants more and more. I am completely looking forward to what he can give me in the next three years.”
Barnes pointed out that Lopez is the fastest freshman in Northmont history.
“He is the first freshman at Northmont to qualify individually for state,” Barnes said. “He is right up there with runners like J.T. McKay whose personal record was 16:12, but Lopez has run in the fifteens twice this year.”
Barnes coached other great runners like Hannah Turlington when she was in seventh and eighth grade, who he referred to as a really good athlete with a successful high school career.
“Lopez is among the best ever at Northmont straight from the get go,” Barnes stated.
Abby Drosdak, who Barnes coached, placed third in the state last year in her senior year.
“She wasn’t as successful as a freshman. She just got better,” Barnes said. “Right out of the gate, Lopez definitely is one of the best athletes I have ever coached.”
Lopez was among a strong freshmen class that included Owen Bush, Grant Mergler, and Adam Wallace.
“His freshmen class is going to be really good in the next couple of years. I am really excited about the four freshmen boys that I have and how they are going to grow over the next three years,” Barnes commented. “As a team I think we are just going to get better.
“Lopez is going to be right up there with the top runners by his junior and senior year. We are talking top five in the state, and his senior year possibly going for the state title. Who knows?” Barnes added.
“I am super excited to see what he can do the next few years, because the biggest thing and even my assistant coaches made the comment, is that he is a freshman running against seniors that are built bigger and have gone through maturity and he is running against athletes that are almost like men at times and he is right up there with them. He is just awesome.”
Ryan Stirm of Rocky River was the next fastest freshman finisher at state coming in 100th at 16:42.50.
Other freshman that competed at state included Grady Kling of Toledo St. Francis, 105th (16:44.50), Nolan Hicks of Springboro, 127th (16:58.00), Zane Rhoads of Steele, 136th (17:01.10), Everett Muhlenkamp of Tippecanoe, 143rd (17:05.80), Gregory Kerns of Westerville North, 159th (17:26.10), Noah Madden of Perrysburg, 162nd (17:30.80), Jack Flanagan of Dublin Scioto, 178th (18:23.00), and Tyson Andrews of Springboro, 179th (18:29.70).
Senior Ben Gabelman of Westerville North took 1st place with a blistering fast time of 14:51.70. Junior Eli Ilg of Massillon Jackson finished 2nd in 14:59.70 with sophomore Landon Kimmel of Tippecanoe 3rd in 15:02.10.
Reach Ron Nunnari by email: [email protected].