VAN WERT — Distance runners tend to excel in cooler temperatures.
With the temperatures reaching nearly 90 degrees late Saturday morning, the prospect of fast times on the 5,000-meter course at the Van Wert County Hospital Invitational was not good. The race took place around the Van Wert Reservoirs and the Van Wert County Hospital property.
However, someone forgot to remind Ottoville senior Brendan Siefker and Ayersville sophomore Noah Fisher.
Siefker, the 2016 Division III cross country state runner-up, kept a narrow lead on Fisher throughout Saturday’s race, and then pulled away down the stretch for the win. Siefker crossed the finish line in 15 minutes, 46 seconds. Fisher also went under the 16-minute mark, finishing second in 15:56. Parkway’s Matt Gaerke was third (16:49), Lincolnview’s Karter Tow came in fourth (16:52), while Coldwater’s Andrew Schoen rounded out the top five runners in the boys’ race (17:12).
“I don’t think that it’s just scorching hot,” Siefker said. “I think what made it worse is that it was hot during the summer and then it cooled down. So, you kind of adjust to that 60-degree weather, that you’re running in. Then – a random weekend like this, where it’s near 90 degrees again – it’s hard to adjust back to it. It makes it pretty brutal out there. Up on top of the reservoir, we had to run around there for about a mile. There’s no shade or anything and no wind. … That was pretty hot up there.”
Siefker stayed with his normal game plan Saturday, despite the brutal temperatures.
“I knew the hill was after the (first) mile,” Siefker said. “So, I wanted to have a hard first mile, try to get everyone out fast and get them a little fatigued before the hill. Then, I went up the hill pretty strong and for about 25 meters after the hill. Then, I kind of settled back into my pace, Over the years, I’ve found that it’s usually good separating from the others early, because those hills are always brutal. Then, once you get up the hill, you have to sprint a little bit more to separate from them.”
In the boys’ race, Lincolnview took home the team title, defeating second-place Shawnee, 84-121. Ottawa-Glandorf finished third (130), while Parkway (141) and Bryan (159) rounded out the top five teams in the 15-team field. There were 178 finishers in the boys’ race.
Behind Tow, for Lincolnview, were teammates Alek Bowersock (10th, 17:53), Devon Bill (16th, 18:09), Jacob Keysor (20th, 18:20) and Joe Sadowski (34th, 18:59).
In the girls’ race, Columbus Grove sophomore Alyssa Ellerbrock took the race over in the final mile, and pulled away for the win in 19:43. Ayersville freshman Teryn Bour finished second in 20:17.
“It was pretty good, considering how hot it was,” Ellerbrock said about her performance. “I was trying to go out with the same game plan, but I didn’t realize how hot it was. I just wanted to stay with the Ayersville girl, and then see how far I could get in front of her. Then, I broke ahead. I thought she was right behind me, but at the turn, coming into the stretch, she was about 200 (meters) behind me.”
Columbus Grove senior and sister of Alyssa Ellerbrock, Taylor Ellerbrock, came in third (20:34). Coldwater’s Sara Honigford (20:44) and Crestview’s Ashley Bowen (20:45) rounded out the top five runners in the girls’ race. There were 132 finishers.
With Columbus Grove placing its five scorers in the top 13 spots, the Bulldogs notched the girls’ team title over second-place Coldwater, 33-75. Bryan finished third (90), Lincolnview was fourth (105) and Shawnee came in fifth (116). There were 11 teams that figured into the team scoring.
Behind the Ellerbrocks, Columbus Grove’s top five runners included Erin Downing (seventh, 20:51), Leanndra Price (ninth, 21:11) and Sydney Witteborg (13th, 21:15).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.