VAN WERT – Saturday’s Van Wert County Hospital Invitational featured some of the best area cross country runners.
With a good mixture of Division II and Division III runners, all four high school races were very competitive.
In the girls Gold Division, two former state champions battled on the 5K course.
Coldwater’s Sarah Kanney and Wauseon’s Taylor Vernot, both former state champions, highlighted the Gold Division race.
Kanney, the 2012 Division III state champion, got out fast and maintained her lead throughout, en route to a winning time of 18 minutes, 38 seconds on the 5K course. Vernot, last year’s Division II state champion, finished second to Kanney in 19:14. The next three finishers were Minster runners. Kaci Bornhorst finished third (19:53), Morgan Pohl was fourth (19:55) and Julia Slonkosky came in fifth (19:59) to lead Minster.
Minster took home the team title, recording an impressive score of 30 points. Wauseon finished second (77) and Coldwater was third (95). There were 11 teams in the Gold Division.
“I knew she (Vernot) could come on real strong at the end of the race. So, I knew she was going to push me,” Kanney said. “Today I was off (on time), but I’ve been having pretty consistent races. I feel healthy and strong, right now.”
In the boys Gold Division, it was a five-man race for more than two miles.
However, in the final mile, Wauseon’s Quintin Reiser broke away from the pack and went on to win in 16:15. Coldwater’s Jon Wenning came in second (16:25), Deric Laurent from New Haven (IN) was third (16:28), Van Wert’s Connor Holliday finished fourth (16:29) and Lincolnview’s Bayley Tow was fifth (16:34).
Van Wert claimed the team title, outscoring second-place Lincolnview 43-76. New Haven finished third (78). There were 14 teams in the Gold Division.
Van Wert’s solid pack of runners proved to be the difference in Saturday’s race.
“I was happy on how they raced today,” Van Wert coach Brendon Moody said about his boys team. “The times weren’t really reflective of the race. The guys raced really smart. There was a lot of work (running) into the wind.
“(Connor) Holliday was out in the lead group with the top five boys and we had our (No.) 2, 3 and 4 runners making up the chase pack. We had four in the top ten and we were missing our No. 5 guy.”
Cade Fleming (seventh, 17:21), Connor Shaffer (eighth, 17:22), Daniel Perry (ninth, 17:23) and Ryan Rice (15th, 18:13) rounded out Van Wert’s top five runners.
In the boys Blue Division, Crestview’s Mycah Grandstaff won in 16:53. Minster’s Ben Butler finished second (17:05), while New Bremen’s Cort Speckman was third (17:15).
New Bremen took home the team title in the boys Blue Division (46). Minster finished a very close second (49) and Columbus Grove was a very close third (50).
In the girls Blue Division, Crestview’s Ashley Bowen won in 20:27. Mohawk notched the team crown (68). Columbus Grove and New Bremen both ended the meet with 70 points. However, Columbus Grove was awarded second place due to the sixth-runner tiebreaker.