COLUMBUS GROVE — There’s nothing better than competing on your home course.
It couldn’t have been any sweeter for the Columbus Grove girls cross country team, as the Bulldogs ran away with the small school team title at Saturday’s Columbus Grove Invitational.
The Bulldogs placed their top five runners in the top 16 overall spots, en route to a stellar team score of 37, defeating second-place Lincolnview (110). Botkins finished third (115), while Hopewell-Loudon was a very close fourth (116). There were 12 schools figured into the team scoring.
Leading the way for Columbus Grove on Saturday was sophomore Alyssa Ellerbrock, who just missed breaking the school record, with a winning time of 19:00 on the 5,000-meter course.
Ellerbrock came into Saturday’s home invite with high aspirations. Her personal-best time, coming into Saturday’s race, was 19:33.
“I was hoping to get into the 18s in this race,” Ellerbrock said. “My first mile was right on target, and my second mile was a little off. So, I knew I had to pick it up in the last mile.”
Ellerbrock did not take over the race until she hit the track (less than 400 meters left in the race), which at that point, Kalida’s Taylor Lucke was leading. Then, around 250 meters from the finish line, Ellerbrock sped past Lucke and went on for the victory. Lucke finished second in 19:10.
Rounding out the top runners for Columbus Grove were Taylor Ellerbrock (ninth, 20:09), Leanndra Price (10th, 20:12), Sydney Witteborg (15th, 20:46) and Erin Downing (16th, 20:47).
“Alyssa was going after the school record today, of 18:58,” Columbus Grove girls coach Jason Jay said. “She finished at 19-flat. She gave everything she had out there. They (Columbus Grove girls team) set a five-man record, which we were going for today. With it being the home course, you have to go out and attack it. “Today was a good day – being a home meet and everything. We set some pretty lofty expectations for today, and the girls went out and executed. Every girl from the No. 1 runner to the No. 15 runner, ran well. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
In the boys small school division, Ottoville senior Brendan Siefker had a little competition – that is, until the final mile of the race.
Siefker, who led the entire race, pulled away from Ayersville sophomore Noah Fisher in the final stretch, en route to a winning time of 15:34.2. Fisher finished in 15:43.
Siefker, last year’s Division III state runner-up, stuck with his game plan on Saturday.
“I ran against him (Fisher) at the Wayne Trace Invite on Tuesday,” Siefker said, in reference to his previous win over Fisher. “So, I kind of had a feel for the whole race of where I wanted him to be, compared to me. I just kind of went with that today. Going into the woods for the last time (the final loop), I think he was like 10, 15 (seconds) back. When I came out of the woods, someone said like 25 (seconds). So, that’s what I wanted to do. That last mile, I wanted to open it up.”
Winning the team title in the boys small school division was Minster, which defeated second-place Lincolnview 56-122. Edgerton finished third (148), while Carey (159) rounded out the top four teams.
In the girls large school division, Minster bumped up from the small school division, and still ran away with the team crown with a perfect score of 15. Bryan finished a distant second (97), while Findlay (107) and Anthony Wayne (116) rounded out the top four squads.
Minster’s Emma Watcke won the large school race in a time of 18:23. Teammate Kaitlynn Albers finished second (18:53), while Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan came in third (19:02).
In the boys large school race, Toledo St. Francis won the team title, slipping past Anthony Wayne 94-119. Wauseon finished third (136), while Van Wert (138) rounded out the top four teams.