EATON — The Eaton Cross Country program had an excellent weekend at the annual Ed Leas Fall Classic at Fort St. Clair Park, finishing the meet with two championships, one runner-up finish and a fourth place.
Also participating in the event were Preble Shawnee, Tri-County North, and Twin Valley South.
Two familiar names placed best for the local teams: Eaton’s Seth Gard took second in the boys’ race, while Madison Wright of TVS finished in fourth for the girls.
The 2016 edition of the Fall Classic included 21 teams representing Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana and Bryan Station from Lexington, Kentucky.
“One of the many positives of this meet is that every year we always have a team or two from states other than Ohio that attend,” said Eaton coach Randy McKinney. “We have had teams from Indiana, Kentucky and Georgia attend over the years. It is always nice to have different teams from the area and out of state that we have not competed against earlier in the season.”
Eaton’s senior and team captain Gard led the way for the men’s team, with a second place individual finish in 16 minutes, 23 seconds.
“Seth ran a very solid race, but just didn’t get out early against Conant Smith of Middletown who won the boy’s race,” McKinney said. “Tanner Titkemeyer also ran an outstanding race for the Eagles, placing fifth in a time of 17:17.”
Wyatt Cox was the third finisher for the home team, placing ninth in 17:34, along with Alex McCarty who placed 10th overall in 17:39, while Cole Bulach was the fifth Eagle to cross the finish line in 17:52 and placing 15th overall.
In the field of 159 runners, Alex Newport placed 31st overall in 18:29, followed by Dylan Suding who placed 48th in 19:06. Other Eagle finishers were LeKendric Brown (59th, 19:24), Jacob Hickman (68th, 19:41), and Mike Arys (70th, 19:45).
When the race was completed, the Eagles scored a low 38 for the championship to runner-up Middletown, who scored 93 points. Russia placed third with 126 points.
Bailey Hilt was the top finisher for TCN (2oth, 18:06). Brandon Smeltzer was second for the Panthers in 67th with a 19:40 time. The rest of North’s runners included Patrick Timmons (76th, 19:56), Ian Alexander (79th, 20:05), Trenton Napier (89th, 20:26), Gregory Ras (114th, 21:26), and Thomas Pudenz (121st, 21:49). Tri-County North came in 12th with a score of 304.
Twin Valley South came in 13th with a 345. Matt Hemmelgarn was the first South runner to cross the line, in 35th with a time of 18:48. Kyle Saul came in 47th with a 19:06 finish. Chris Keener was the third South finisher (81st, 20:12). The remaining TVS runners were Seth Craft (97th, 20:36), Brandon Wright (123rd, 21:50), and Curtis Hittle (142nd, 24:58).
The Preble Shawnee boys team had Carter Roell finish in 102nd with a time of 20:58. Rylan Roberts was the next Arrow runner to finish the race, coming in 117th with a time of (21:35). The rest of the pack included Jon Hicks (145th, 25:20), Dylan Childers (150th, 26:06), and Robert Burns (157th, 28:02). Preble Shawnee finished 18th with a 550.
The Lady Eagles entered the meet ranked fourth and finished fourth in the team standings. State-ranked Russia and Monroe battled for the championship, with Russia winning with a score of 56 points to 58 points for Monroe. Princeton High School placed third.
In the 115 runner field, Katie Bassler led the way for the Eagles, with a 16th place finish in 21:05. Claire Meyer was the second Lady Eagle finisher, placing 26th in 22:01, followed by Sasha Taxter who took 28th in 22:23. The remaining Eaton runners were Gabby Best (30th, 22:23), Destiny Brubaker (38th, 22:51), Brianna Baker (43rd, 23:22), Brooke Caplinger (57th, 24:23), Alexis Owen (65th, 25:08), and Nina Albinus (82nd, 26:27.)
“The course did not run fast due to the amount of rain we have had over the previous three weeks,” McKinney said. “However, the times and were solid for this time in the season and many of our athletes ran faster than they did three weeks ago at the Eaton Invitational.”
South’s Madison Wright finished in fourth place with a time of 19:43. Her sister, Megan, was next for the Lady Panthers in 17th place with a 21:10 time. Zoe Utsinger (37th, 22:48), Maddyn McQueen (91st, 27:58), and Maggie Johnson (106th, 31:47) also raced for South, who finished seventh as a team with a score of 204.
Tri-County North came in 13th with a score of 311. Lauren Koenig was the top North runner, taking 44th with a time of 23:28. Julia Myers was the second TCN finisher, placing 69th at 25:17. The remaining runners for North were Hailey Brumley (76th, 26:09), Anna Norris (96th, 28:58), and Lindsay Owens (103rd, 30:45).
Preble Shawnee only fielded three runners in the event. They were Stephanie Howard (77th, 26:12), Alivia Reek (95th, 28:51), and Mackenzie Howard (107th, 31:49).
The Eaton girl’s junior high team ran one of their best team races of the season, placing their top five runners in the top 23 places to capture the team title with 64 points ahead of runner-up Waynesville, who had 87 points, and third place Valley View, who had 109 points in the 18-team field.
In the field of 114 runners, Cari Metz led the way for the Eagles with a strong 6th place finish in a time of 13:38, followed closely by Allison Mowen, who placed 8th in 13:42. Madelynn Baker placed 16th overall with a 14:07 time. The rest of the field included Grace Murphy (20th, 14:13), Sophia Murphy (23rd, 14:24), Tess Murphy (38th, 15:05), Allie Whitesell (39th, 15:06), Anna Kramer (44th, 15:16), Rachel Buckler (47th, 15:21), Josie Bulach (54th, 15:39), Alaina Webb (55th, 15:41), Mara Posey (70th, 16:33), Olivia McCarty (80th, 16:43), Kyla Mize (85th, 16:51), Grace Maynard (87th, 17:05) and Katy Rich (97th, 17:37)
The Eaton boy’s junior high team placed runner-up to Waynesville with 58 points to Waynesville’s 20. In in the 167 runner field, both teams easily outscored the other 16. Owen Hewitt and Jack Bortel led the way for the Eagles, placing 6th and 7th overall (11:24 and 11:35 respectively), followed by Austin Kopf (13th, 11:59), Garrett Sanders (15th, 12:02), Logan Cottle (17th, 12:07), Jacob Wright (33rd, 12:45), Ryan Brooks (38th, 12:51), Brady Cooper (39th, 12:51), Beau Shepherd (40th, 12:53), Cole Hauser (86th, 14:09), Kendale Hamilton (105th, 14:31), Dawson Brubaker (111th, 14:50), Gavin Bach (117th, 15:04) and Jonah Brewer (161st, 19:36.)
“Overall, the weekend was a very successful and exciting weekend for our entire program,” said McKinney. “Our teams walked away with outstanding team finishes while many of our athletes walked away with individual honors and season personal best times.”
“Great day for a meet with the cooler conditions,” said TCN coach Tim Martin. “We were a little depleted on the girls end, but still had some personal records met (Julia Myers, Hailey Brumley on the girls end, and Ian Alexander, Bailey Hilt on the guys’ side). Hilt had an 18:06 to medal at 20th. We’re hoping we can put our best efforts into CCC and district the next two weeks. I’m very proud of their mettle.”
Eaton and Preble Shawnee will compete on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the SWBL Championship at Franklin, while Tri-County North and Twin Valley South will join National Trail to race in the Cross County Conference Championships at Covington.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH