Columbus Grove boys win first cross country state title

OBETZ — Visualize it, and it will come.

That was the Columbus Grove boys’ cross country team’s strategy, heading into Saturday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Cross Country State Championships at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park.

And what the Columbus Grove boys’ team visualized during the week, played out to the school’s first ever team state title in cross country Saturday.

Columbus Grove slipped past perennial state-power Mount Gilead on Saturday, 122-128, to notch the Division III state title. Maplewood (166) and West Liberty-Salem (171) rounded out the top four teams.

New Bremen (sixth, 237), Lincolnview (seventh, 242), Minster (15th, 311), and Marion Local (19th, 404) were the other Lima area full teams (at least five runners) that competed on Saturday.

“We tried to keep them focused this week – telling them that it’s just a race,” longtime Columbus Grove boys’ head coach Terry Schnipke said. “We weren’t talking about their last race, or state. We told them this was a big moment for a lot of people. But you have to think of it as just another race. So, that’s kind of how we prepared. We had them sit down and do some visualization – on what they need to do and where they need to be. Obviously, it worked.”

Senior Luke Ellerbrock led Columbus Grove Saturday with a 12th-place finish in 16:06.15 on the 5,000-meter course at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park.

Rounding out Columbus Grove’s scorers Saturday were Evan Pitts (34th, 16:38.46), Caiden Squillante (60th, 16:58.32), Levi Bryan (62nd, 16:59.63) and Bryce Bonifas (92nd, 17:25.46). There were 186 finishers in the race.

The top-30 finishers earn all-Ohio status.

Columbus Grove’s three seniors reflected on this season’s journey.

“It was unexpected (team state title), that’s for sure,” the University of Findlay-bound Ellerbrock said with a grin. “At the start of the season, I was expecting to be happy to get top 10 in the state. Slowly, we just got better and better. About five weeks ago at the Coldwater meet (Coldwater Invitational), we all ran really well. That’s where it kind of started – like we have a chance to do something.”

Pitts, who has been Columbus Grove’s second runner all season, had some high goals coming in.

“It’s an unreal feeling,” Pitts said. “We came in here; I think ranked third (in the D-III state coaches poll). I was just coming in here, trying to get in the top 20 (individually) or whatever. But I’ll definitely take a state title instead.”

Added senior Logan Mershman (110th, 17:39.01), “Honestly, I have to admit, part of the reason I run cross country is the people I run with. This group has been a special one this year. We’ve done a lot of great things. Coming into this meet, I knew it was possible that we could win. So, I ran the best that I could.”

Braylon Best was Columbus Grove’s seventh runner Saturday (125th, 17:56.41).

Added Schnipke, “All week, these guys read about Mount Gilead. … They’re a heck of a team. They were state champs last year. So, a couple people in our circles told us that we had a good chance. We just serve a great God; and we pray to him every day before practice to keep us healthy and thank Him for our talents. And these guys have a lot of talent. I’m blessed to be able to coach such great guys with such great parents. It just feels great.”

Van Wert’s Scott leads Lima area D-II runners

In Division II, Van Wert’s Owen Scott led the area runners with a fifth-place finish in 15:42.74. Ottawa-Glandorf’s Ty Rosengarten placed ninth (15:54.08).

As a team, Van Wert finished 17th in D-II. Celina finished 20th.

Saturday, Scott worked his way into the lead pack after the first mile and managed to stay up there, en route to a new personal best.

“I just envisioned me doing my best,” Scott said. “I didn’t know what that could be, but I wanted to do what I could.

“I’m going to be honest – I was out there, making a move. I wasn’t sure why I was up there, but it worked out. I saw guys that I have never seen before, but I just ran with them,” Scott said with a grin.

Rosengarten was pleased with Saturday’s performance.

“I told myself the ‘A goal’ was top 10; and we reached that,” Rosengarten said. “We went through the first 400 (meters), and I thought, ‘We are moving, right now’. We went through the first mile at like 4:50, 4:49. Then we came through the 2-mile at 10-flat. Performing well here today gives me confidence to do something next year.”

Added O-G head coach Holly Flueckiger about Rosengarten, “His ‘A plan’ was to be in the top-10; and he got it. He should be so proud of it. He’s put in so much time and energy. He has been totally committed to his routine.”

Rounding out the Van Wert scorers Saturday were Drew Laudick (114th, 17:23.51), John Kramer (117th, 17:23.89), Rylan Miller (141st, 17:52.33), and Harrison Sloan (153rd, 18:13.98).

Lincolnview places seventh in D-III

The Lincolnview boys’ team vastly improved on its 15th – place finish in 2022, by placing seventh Saturday at the D-III state meet.

Leading the Lancers Saturday was senior Conner Baldauf with a 28th-place finish (16:24.84).

Rounding out Lincolnview’s scorers Saturday included Evan Johns (72nd, 17:08.53), Kreston Tow (87th, 17:23.34), Myles Moody (115th, 17:41.62) and Maddox Norton (130th, 18:00.70).

“That’s the highest finish for a boys’ team in school history,” longtime Lincolnview head coach Matt Langdon said. “So, we feel good about that. They wanted to be in the top five (teams). … That was our goal, going in. In the last poll, we were ranked fifth – and pretty much ranked fifth or sixth all season.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling. We were solid today. Obviously, we will be more excited as time passes, once we realize that it’s the best anyone (boys’ teams at Lincolnview) has ever done down there.”

New Bremen’s Wiedeman on the awards podium

New Bremen’s Zach Wiedeman (16th, 16:14.46) earned all-Ohio on Saturday.


Division II

Top 10 Team Scores/Area Team Scores: 1. Marlington 108, 2. Woodridge 123, 3. Fairfield Union 136, 4. Bay Village 161, 5. Kenston 181, 6. Hawken 221, 7. Field 232, 8. Sheridan 241, 9. Bexley 250, 10. Madeira 260, 17. Van Wert 368, 20. Celina 419.

Race Winner/Area Finishers:

1. Andrew Walton (Fair) 15:00.17, 5. Owen Scott (VW) 15:42.74, 9. Ty Rosengarten (Ottawa-Glandorf) 15:54.08, 34. Colin Buening (Cel) 16:27.03, 62. Jacob Wireman (Bath) 16:46.52, 114. Andrew Laudick (VW) 17:23.51, 116. Kaleb Dameron (Cel) 17:23.89, 117. John Kramer (VW) 17:23.89, 123. Everett Bensman (Ba) 17:31.28, 138. Caleb Lehman (Cel) 17:47.31, 141. Rylan Miller (VW) 17:52.33, 149. Eli Spring (Cel) 18:06.99, 153. Harrison Sloan (VW) 18:13.98, 157. Noah Spath (VW) 18:16.99, 162. Kaden Steed (Cel) 18:25.61, 175. Johan Gemmer (VW) 18:56.28, 176. Austin Welling (Cel) 18:57.94.

Division III

Top 10 Team Scores/Area Finishers: 1. Columbus Grove 122, 2. Mount Gilead 128, 3. Maplewood 166, 4. West Liberty-Salem 171, 5. Versailles 197, 6. New Bremen 237, 7. Lincolnview 242, 8. Seneca East 256, 9. Tuscar. Valley 261, 10. Botkins 277, 15. Minster 311, 19. Marion Local 404.

Race Winner/Area Finishers:

1. Luke Snyder (Rittman) 15:23.03, 12. Luke Ellerbrock (CG) 16:06.15, 16. Zach Wideman (NB) 16:14.46, 28. Conner Baldauf (Lin) 16:24.84, 33. Trevor Heitkamp (Ft. Recovery) 16:32.77, 34. Evan Pitts (CG) 16:38.46, 40. Ryan Halpin (Min) 16:46.75, 52. Dominic Shroyer (NB) 16:52.69, 56. Jack Grieshop (Min) 16:56.42, 60. Caiden Squillante (CG) 16:58.32, 62. Levi Bryan (CG) 16:59.63, 71. Nick Prenger (Min) 17:07.85, 72. Evan Johns (Lin) 17:08.53, 80. Jett Jellison (NB) 17:16.40, 87. Kreston Tow (Lin) 17:23.34, 92. Bryce Bonifas (CG) 17:25.46, 105. Ryan Stucke (ML) 17:33.00, 110. Logan Mershman (CG) 17:39.01, 115. Myles Moody (Lin) 17:41.62, 119. Wesley Schoen (ML) 17:47.20, 123. Trey Goettemoeller (ML) 17:53.32, 125. Braylon Best (CG) 17:56.41, 126. Sam Bernhold (NB) 17:57.80, 130. Maddox Norton (Lin) 18:00.70, 136. Kaleb Denman (Lin) 18:10.47, 140. Caleb Wittenbrink (NB) 18:16.18, 144. Lucas Broering (ML) 18:18.65, 148. Trace Klausing (Lin) 18:22.92, 152. Dalton Pohlmann (ML) 18:25.99, 155. Wade Kremer (ML) 18:26.96, 156. Collin Cedarleaf (Min) 18:27.23, 167. Simon Shroyer (NB) 18:36.78, 168. Preston Kemper (ML) 18:37.33, 170. Tyler Schwartz (NB) 18:49.59, 175. Carter Dircksen (Min) 19:06.44, 182. Connor Collins (Min) 20:04.71.

Complete results

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