ATTICA — It was a good start to the season for Eaton’s cross country teams.
The Eagles traveled to North Central Ohio to compete in the Seneca East Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 27.
The Lady Eagles placed 3rd overall while the men’s team placed 4th overall in the 25-team field.
Both races were stacked with some outstanding state level competition, according to Eaton coach Randy McKinney.
The women’s race consisted of a field of 210 runners while the men’s race consisted of a field of 266 individual competitors.
The Lady Eagles placed nine runners in the top 52 places overall to finish 3rd with 114 points, behind the 2021 defending D-II State Champs Minerva, currently ranked No. 1 in the state, and Liberty Center, currently ranked No. 2 in the D-III state polls.
Eaton finished ahead of Huron and Edison and a couple other schools who are also currently top twenty state ranked teams.
“This was a great start to the season. At the start the girls got pinched into the inside of the first turn on the course, roughly 100 meters out from the starting line, and had to make their way through a very competitive field of competitors,” McKinney said. “Not ideal, but they didn’t panic and worked their way toward the front as the race progressed. For example, Kiera Elliott (20 minutes, 30 seconds) and Lauren Guiley (20:45) were not in the top 30 at the start but worked their way up to place 14th and 18th respectively.”
Other placers for Eaton included Emily Haynes in 21:21, 30th, Kaili Hewitt in 21:46, 36th, Addi Guiley in 22:04, 39th, Kyeleigh Gifford in 22:10, 43rd, Stephanie Gibson in 22:21, 45th, Cami McCloud in 22:23, 52nd, Rylie Haynes in 22:38, 104th, Elise Simmons in 24:52 and 127th and Ally Schmidt in 26:05.
The men’s team placed seven runners in the top 58 places overall to finish 4th overall with 118 points, behind No. 2 D-III ranked Ottawa Hills, No. 4 D-III ranked Mt. Gilead and just behind Minerva who was ranked just ahead of the Eagles in last week’s State D-II polls.
“Like in the women’s race there were also several other D3 and D2 state ranked teams that the men’s team placed ahead of in the team standings,” McKinney said.
The men’s team was led by sophomore Tanner Davis who placed 13th overall in 17:15, followed by Kolby Hamilton was 17th in 17:18, Wes Kitchin was 23rd in 17:37, James Baker was 32nd in 18:01, Jack Richardson was 33rd in 18:04, Bradley Gifford placed 43rd in 18:20, Nick Laycox was 58th in 18:49, Jaxon Roth placed 89th in 19:33, Aidan Foster 104th in 19:55, Dylan Staley 181st in 22:10 and Charles Kochensparger 198th in 22:41.
“The first race of the season, regardless of the weather, course or competition is always tough because as a runner you must shift your mental and physical self into the racing mode. Your body forgets how that feels from season to season until you remind it by competing in that first season race,” McKinney said. “We were one of the few teams at the meet that had not opened their season the week before at another meet.”
The Eagles are scheduled to travel to Kentucky this weekend.
“I am looking forward to another outstanding field of competition at the Owensboro Invitational this upcoming Saturday and look forward to seeing how much we improve overall from week one to week two,” he said. “Like always our goal is gradual improvement and keeping everyone healthy.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowemjr