CEDARVILLE — The Eaton boys cross country team qualified for the Division II Troy Regional Tournament by placing third at the Cedarville District Tournament held on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Cedarville University.
Senior team captain Seth Gard earned third place overall, with a time of 16:28, beaten out only by Mike Laughlin of Carroll (1st, 16:17) and Joe Spitzer (2nd, 16:19) from a leading pack of five strong individual competitors.
“The guys ran a really nice race,” said Eaton coach Randy McKinney. “We haven’t been on this course before, even though many of the other schools have raced here at least once. Not knowing the course, and the wind considered, we beat two top ranked teams (Tippecanoe and Chaminade Julienne,) and lost to two top-ranked teams so it’s been a good day.”
While the boys team advanced, the girls team had their 2016 season come to a close, finishing in 12th overall with no individuals qualified for regionals.
Junior Tanner Titkemeyer was the second Eaton runner to cross the line, coming in 19th with a time of 17:13. Next for Eaton was Wyatt Cox, who took 26th in 17:19. The decisive moment came when Cole Bulach (34th, 17:39) Alex McCarty (35th, 17:40) and Steven Cottle (36th, 17:41) all finished together to give Eaton the team position needed to qualify for the next phase in the post season.
Alex Newport was the final Eagle runner to cross the finish line (48th, 18:04.)
Eaton scored 117 team points on the day, ahead of Tippecanoe which scored 170. Carroll was the team champion with 53 points, followed by Springfield Shawnee in second with 84 points.
“We ran a nice team race and worked together really well,” McKinney said. “We scored a very big gap ahead of Tippecanoe who normally beats us, so this is a good feeling to finish ahead of them for a change.”
“Next week will be a dogfight because only the top four teams advance to state,” McKinney continued. “Seth is a very experienced runner, he will get rested up and ready for next week. But he ran a very good race. Our last man finished in 48th. When you can do that as a team, good things happen.”
For the Lady Eagles, Katie Bassler was the top finisher, taking 44th in 21:27. Sasha Taxter finished in 58th in 21:48. The third lady runner for Eaton to cross the line was Claire Meyer, earning 69th place in a time of 22:15.
The rest of the group consisted of Destiny Brubaker (74th, 22:33,) Gabby Best (95th, 23:10,) Briana Baker (111th, 23:56,) and Brooke Caplinger (121st, 24:28.)
“The girls didn’t have one of their better races,” McKinney said. “But we are looking at the competition who had six of the top-ranked teams here. It’s much tougher district for girls, probably one of the two toughest in Ohio. The beauty is, we have the potential to get every one of the girls back for next year. Some of the girls never ran before, so we are looking forward to next year. We knew this was going to be tough today, but we didn’t lose because of a lack of effort.”
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH