COVINGTON — At the Cross County Conference Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Oct. 15, the National Trail boys team won their third title in four years.
Thirteen teams participated in the event, with 10 boys teams and nine girls teams scoring points, along with individuals who competed for their schools.
Among the league teams competing were Tri-County North and Twin Valley South.
National Trail finished with a team score of 41 points, just three points ahead of Miami East (44). Franklin-Monroe was third with 103 poionts. Twin Valley South (177) and Tri-County North (182) placed seventh and eighth respectively.
For the champion Blazers, Josh Bishop crossed the finish line in fourth with a time of 17:20. Close behind him was Lane Unger, who took sixth in 17:34. Travis Hunt was the third Trail finisher, coming in at ninth with at time of 17:49.
Bishop, Unger and Hunt were named All-CCC for their performances.
Next for National Trail was Weston Haws, who placed 12th in a time of 18:02. The final point earner was Josh Cook, whose 18th place in a time of 18:19 was just ahead of a Miami East runner, which gave Trail enough points to take first place in the team standings.
Rounding out the Blazer runners were Payton Harrison (24th in 18:35), Iam Miller (35th in 19:32), Nicolas Wellman (52nd in 20:46), Austin Green (55th in 21:03), and Jack Weaver (75th in 24:01.)
“The seniors were the ones who won the conference three of their four years,” said Trail coach James Byrd. “We had some strong performances from them all four years, so that’s really something to be proud of. What really made the difference was Cook, because he finished ahead of Miami East’s fifth place runner so that was significant.”
“I’m looking forward to districts, I’m really excited about this,” Byrd said. “Our goal is to finish in the top four as a team, to put us in good position for regionals. The top nine teams advance from districts. Individually, the top 36 will advance, but I will look for our kids to finish top five runners and move on as individuals.”
The Twin Valley South boys had Matt Hemmelgarn as their top finisher on the day (26th, 18:40). Chris Keener crossed the line in 31st in 19:05. The rest of South’s runners were Brandan Wright (40th in 19:57), Kyle Saul (43rd in 20:05), Seth Craft (49th in 20:13), and Curtis Hittle (79th in 24:54.)
“I was generally pleased with the performances at the CCC meet this past Saturday,” said TVS coach Richie Faber. “Chris and Seth both hit personal bests and Brandan hit a season-best. The 7th place team finish was about as expected for this young group.”
Tri-County North finished behind South in the boys team standings. Bailey Hilt was the top finisher for North, taking 22nd in the field with a time of 18:32. Brandon Smeltzer was next for TCN, finishing 36th in 19:35. Ian Alexander was the third Panther finisher at 41st in a time of 20:00. The rest of the pack included Patrick Timmons (48th in 20:12), Trenton Napier (56th in 21:07), Thomas Pudenz (56th in 21:07), and Gregory Ras (63rd in 21:45).
In the girls’ race, Twin Valley South came in fourth with a team score of 97. Madison Wright finished 5th in 20:06 to earn All-CCC honors. Her sister, Megan Wright finished 11th in 21:07, while Zoe Utsinger finished 17th in 22:23. Sydney Vorhis finished 38th in 25:23 and Maddyn McQueen finished 55th in 28:18.
“Zoe and Sydney both ran well for the girls’ team,” said Faber. “Both were instrumental in the 4th place finish and are setting us up for a potential berth in the regional meet in a couple of weeks. I think the junior high finished their season out very well.”
Tri-County North’s girls team finished in seventh place with a 164. First to cross the line for North was Lauren Koenig, who placed 25th in a time of 23:34. Julia Myers was next in 42nd place at the 25:50 mark. Taylor Cooper (46th, 26:30) and Hailey Brumley (47th, 26:41) were third and fourth for TCN. Rounding out the rest of the Lady Panthers were Anna Norris (58th, 28:55), and Caitlyn McCullough (64th, 31:00).
Only four girls raced for National Trail. Sophomore Evan Byrd took 16th in a time of 22:16. The rest of the team included JaLynn Byrd (35th, 24:52), Casey Thompson (49th, 26:55), and Katie Buehner (54th, 28:10).
The high school teams will be at Cedarville for the district championships next Saturday, Oct. 22, in the Division III bracket.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH