HEBRON — Eaton’s boys and girls cross country teams opened the season at the OHSAA pre-season meet on Saturday, Aug. 17, with the Eagles boys capturing second place in the field of 24 teams.
The girls squad finished 12th in a field of 21 teams.
This past weekend, Eaton’s boys claimed third place in the Division I-II race at the Bob Schul Invitational hosted by Milton-Union, while the girls were 10th.
“In the boys race we were very happy to place second in the field of 24 team and 170 runners,” Eaton coach McKinney said of the pre-season meet. “Maderia placed ahead of capturing the team title, last year they were just ahead of us at the regional championships and placed high at the state championships. They are tough at this point in the season, but we have a lot of time to work on closing that gap between them and our team between the regional championship in late October.”
McKinney said he felt the team got out of the gate too fast.
“I thought the boys got out a little too fast at the start of the race given the weather and conditions of the course, but did a great job of trying to work off one another and keep our pack as close together as possible during the race,” he said. “We had a couple of guys that really struggled with the heat and just didn’t have the type of race they would have liked, but once again this one was about competing and getting the season started. We knew going in we could finish in the top four given where we thought we are at this point in the season so we were pleased, bet not surprised with the overall team finish.”
Eaton had three runners in the top 15.
Junior Alex McCarty was 13th in 17:49. He was followed by sophomore Jack Bortel and junior Alex Newport, who were 14th and 15th with times of 17:51.
Senior Dylan Suding was 35th in 18:38. Junior Todd Coates was 44th in 18:53. Senior Cole Bulach was 61st in 19:51
Sophomore Austin Kopf was 72nd in 20:14. Sophomore Logan Cottle was 108th in 21:26. Senior Gideon Smith was 112th in 21:35 and senior Isaac Rohrer was 144th in 23:28.
“I was very pleased with the efforts and placement of the boys and girls teams at the OHSAA pre-season meet,” McKinney said. “Pre-season is the key though with this meet. No matter how ready the athletes and coaching staff are for the start of the season we have to enter this meet with the idea and attitude that we’re going to go out and compete. It’s just a chance to get to run on the state course, which is always a great opportunity, and see where we are individually and as a team against some top notch competition from across the state of Ohio.”
The girls were led by senior Claire Meyer, who placed 33rd with a time of 23 minutes, 3 seconds. Senior Brooke Caplinger was 55th (24:17). Freshman Ali Mowen was 62nd in 24:40, while sophomore Rachel Buckler was 90th in 25:46, junior Alexis Owen was 95th in 26:09 and sophomore Cari Metz was 100th in 26:41.
“I was pleased with the girls 12th place finish out of the 21 team field in which they competed. Almost all the teams they competed against were regional qualifying teams last fall while three of the teams ahead of them were state qualifying teams last fall,” McKinney said. “There were also several individuals in the race that qualified to the state meet last year and raced well. I entered the meet with one thought, as a coach, for the girls – to see how they handled a big race like this at this point in the season. I think the girls all learned a lot of things individually about their racing, their pre-meet preparation and their team in the 21 team – 140 individual race.”
McKinne said he is looking forward to seeing how his team progresses.
“Overall, it was a great starting point, a great opportunity to experience the state championship course and an opportunity to get the always tough first race out of the way. No one will remember how anyone placed at this meet later in the season, especially those teams and individuals that improve as the season progresses,” he said.
This past weekend Eaton competed at the annual Bob Schul Milton Union Invitational.
“We added the invitational to our schedule to see some of our league/district teams early in the season and because we will be running the SWBL Championships on the same course in October,” McKinney said.
McKinney said his runners all reduced their times from the previous week while several made their season debut.
“All of our athletes that raced at the OHSAA meet last week and again this week at the Bob Schul improved their times by 30 seconds or more. Several of our girls and boys raced for the first time this season,” McKinney said. “We still have a few girls and a couple of boys that we hope to race this upcoming weekend at Circleville. It’s just the beginning of the season with a lot of races and training days to go before we get into the most important part of the season in October.”
In the boys race there were 208 runners.
McCarty was 9th overall in 17:15. Newport was 12th in 17:31. Bortel was 19th in 17:47. Coates was 25th in 18:07. Bulach finished 26th in 18:09. Dylan Suding was 33rd in 18:22 and LeKendric Brown was 51st in 18:57 to round out the Eagles top seven.
Others who ran included: Logan Cottle, 53rd, 18:58; KeAnthony Bales, 57th, 19:06; Austin Kopf, 58th, 19:10; Gideon Smith, 69th, 19:24; Ben Brewer, 71st, 19:27; Austin Pugh, 76th, 19:45; Isaac Rorher, 112th, 21:24 and Cole Hauser, 134th, 22:12.
In the girls race there were 208 runners.
Meyer paced the Eagles with a 26th place finish in 22:01. Caplinger was 33rd in 22:33. Mowen placed 5oth in 23:25. Buckler was 65th in 24:24. Owen was 76th in 24:19. Briana Baker finished 77th in 24:24 and Metz placed 86th in 24:39 to round out the top seven.
Other who competed were Laura Clyburn, 94th, 24:56; Elaina Maynard, 109th, 25:19; Alaina Webb, 114th, 25:26; Arica Hamilton, 115th, 25:30; Josie Bulach, 134th, 26:34; Nina Albinus, 173rd, 28:38; Katy Rich, 200th, 30:44.
”It was a good early season field of competition. The course had been changed from previous years and ran a good 20-25 seconds slower than the old course,” McKinney said. “Right now it’s about seeing where we are and what we need to focus on individually and as a team to improve. I’m very pleased with our progress and know it’s too early to do anything else but to look for progression over the next couple of weeks.”
The Eagles will travel to Circleville Saturday, Sept. 1, to compete in the Circleville Kiwanis Invitational.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH