COLUMBUS GROVE – Being oblivious has its advantages for cross country runners.
Coming into Saturday’s Columbus Grove Invitational, Lima Central Catholic freshman Emily Sreenan was unaware of how good her competition was going to be.
So naturally, Sreenan went out fast and stayed hot on the heels of Wauseon’s Taylor Vernot for the entire 5K race.
The result for Sreenan was a personal-best time of 19 minutes flat and a second-place finish to Vernot. Vernot, the Division II state champion, recorded a winning time of 18:35.1.
In the girls Red Division at Columbus Grove, it quickly turned into a two-person race as Vernot and Sreenan separated from the rest of the pack. Liberty-Benton’s Meghan Bartel, who came in third, was nearly a minute behind Sreenan at the finish line (19:53.3).
Sreenan lined up Saturday with no knowledge of how good Vernot was.
“That’s what I hear (that Vernot was the state champion),” Sreenan said with a smile. “I didn’t know until Coach told me a couple seconds ago.
“I definitely went out faster than normal. I was trying to keep up (with Vernot). It was a really good race and a really fast course. This was the first time on the high school course.”
Sreenan won the Delphos St. John’s Blue Jay invitational last Saturday in 20:21.
“You never know how they’re going to run,” longtime LCC coach Mike Griffo said. “She’s a freshman. She had a great race last week (Blue Jay Invitational). We really didn’t know the competition this week. I had no idea the girl she got second to was a state champion, until after they took off.
“That’s a good challenge for her. It’s the best race she’s had so far this year. It’s only her second invitational. …She’s getting challenged.”
As a team, the LCC girls finished 17th in the Red Division. Wauseon’s solid pack of runners behind Vernot, helped pave the way for the team title. Wauseon won with a score of 65, while second-place New Haven (IN) scored 119 points. There were 19 teams in the Red Division.
In the boys Red Division, Wauseon’s Quintin Reiser won in 16:00.8. LCC’s Alex Rigg had the best local performance in the Red Division, finishing fifth in 16:48.3.
West Liberty-Salem won the team crown in the boys Red Division. St. Marys had the top local performance, finishing 10th. Ottawa-Glandorf came in 11th, while LCC was 12th. There were 24 teams figured into the team scoring.
In the boys Gray Division, Lincolnview garnered the team title (65). Northwest Conference-foe Columbus Grove finished second (96), while Minster was a close third (102). There were 21 full squads in the Gray Division.
Antwerp’s Sam Williamson won the Gray Division race in 16:03.9. Lincolnview’s Bayley Tow was second in 16:10.3. Columbus Grove’s Colton Grothaus was fourth (16:43.8).
Last weekend, Lincolnview finished second by one point to New Bremen at the Blue Jay Invitational.
Longtime Lincolnview coach Matt Langdon said that after coming up short at St. John’s, his team quickly got refocused for Columbus Grove.
“The cool thing was that they did it on their own. …I didn’t have to do it that day,” Langdon said. “I talked a lot at practice on Monday. On Saturday, I knew they were a little disappointed. They’re veteran kids. …They went to state last year. So, they know.”
In the girls Gray Division, Minster’s pack was nearly impeccable. The Wildcats placed its first five runners in the top 10 overall spots, to record an impressive winning score of 27 points. Pandora-Gilboa finished sixth and Columbus Grove was seventh. There were 15 teams in the Gray Division.
Botkins’ Chloe Flora won the Gray Division race in 19:29.8. Minster’s Morgan Pohl finished second 19:43.4. The rest of Minster’s pack included Kaci Bornhorst (third, 19:56.7); Julia Slonkosky (fifth, 20:22.6); Gabrielle Barga (seventh, 20:27.8) and Lisa Barlage (10th, 20:43.5).