TROY — Eaton’s Seth Gard finished sixth overall and his team placed fifth, advancing the junior runner to the state championship as the Eagles unit missed qualifying by 41 points during the Division II regional championship held at Troy High School on Saturday, Oct. 31.
“I thought it went pretty well. I think I did pretty good for my junior year — everyone ahead of me was a senior,” said Gard. “It feels really good. Since I went to state last year, I’ll be more prepared this year and maybe do a little better this year.”
Although it was a highlight for Gard on Saturday, there was still a little disappointment in Eagle country. The team was projected to earn an eighth place finish in pre-race predictions, but stuck to their strategy and many of the runners posted career best times.
“It was one of those meets where our program experienced both a high and low immediately after the race had finished and the results posted,” said head coach Randy McKinney.
There were 136 racers – and 16 teams – in the DII run, with the top 16 individuals and top four teams advancing to the state level.
Gard ran a time 16:13, passing one runner in the final stretch to clock that time and secure a spot in Hebron.
“I just can’t say enough about the abilities and heart of Seth,” said McKinney. “He has become one of the top runners in Ohio, regardless of division, and just gets better each week he competes.”
Wyatt Cox was the second best runner for Eaton, finishing 49th overall with a time of 17:13. Tanner Titkemeyer was close behind, coming in 56th with a time of 17:19. Cole Bulach (66; 17:31) and Ben Bassler (74; 17:36) rounded out the top five finishers for Eaton.
“The guys ran well and represented our program, school and community with pride. I couldn’t have ask for anything more from our guys and they can all walk away with their heads held high proud of a great regional accomplishment,” said McKinney.
The Eaton boys team finished the year with a second place finish in the Southwestern Buckeye League championships and runners-up in the district meet last weekend.
Gard will travel to National Trail Raceway in Hebron for the state championships on Saturday, Nov. 7. The Division II boys are scheduled to race at 2:15 p.m.
“I’d like to get top 20. I think that would be awesome to do and maybe, honestly, break 16 – that’d be pretty sweet to do on that course,” said Gard. “Right now I just need to focus in this week and get it done for state.”
Jeremy can be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.