BATH TOWNSHIP — Teams strive for perfection.
The Defiance boys’ cross-country team was nearly perfect at Saturday’s Western Buckeye League Championships at Bath.
Defiance placed its top five runners in the top seven overall spots, en route to the team title on Saturday. Defiance scored 18 points (15 points is best possible score), defeating second-place Van Wert (56). Ottawa-Glandorf finished a distant third (115), while Shawnee (118) and St. Marys (126) rounded out the top five squads.
The rest of the 10-team field included Celina (sixth, 142), Wapakoneta (seventh, 194), Elida (eighth, 205), Bath (ninth, 205) and Kenton (10th, 277). Elida notched eighth place over Bath, due to sixth-man tiebreaker.
Defiance’s top three runners stayed together for most of Saturday’s race on the 5,000-meter course. In the last mile, Defiance’s Hayden Howerton broke away from his teammates and went on to win in 16 minutes, 6.65 seconds. Teammates Mhalicki Bronson (16:23.54) and Bryce Mendenhall (16:23.63) finished close behind in second and third, respectively. Hunter Sheery (fifth, 16:38.42) and Colin Moats (seventh, 17:17.91) rounded out Defiance’s scorers.
According to longtime Defiance boys coach Obie Mouser, Saturday’s performance was solid; however, it wasn’t his team’s best race.
“They (Defiance’s top five runners) should have been together all day,” Mouser said. “Hayden (Howerton) just decided to make a move. They should of went with him. Maybe I’m getting picky, but at this stage, it’s what’s coming next week (at districts). We were looking at what we needed to do in this race, and we kind of made some mistakes again. In years past, we might have gotten away with those mistakes, but not now.”
Defiance will be competing in the Division I postseason tournament.
Van Wert had its top three runners crack the top 10 on Saturday. Freshman Jacob Wasson led the Cougars with a fourth-place finish (16:38.24). Teammate Cal Wolfrum, a two-time WBL champion, finished sixth (17:05.86), while Gage Chiles placed eighth (17:27.14). Keaton Brown (18th, 17:52.81) and Charlie Pauquette (20th, 17:54.63) rounded out Van Wert’s scorers.
“Overall, I’m very happy,” Van Wert coach Ryan Holliday said. “We came here knowing that Defiance is just so deep up front. But our goal was to break them up a little bit. We wanted to put our top two (runners) in their pack of four. And we were able to do that a little bit. Jacob Wasson, our freshman, ran an outstanding race. He finished fourth overall, and hopped into that (Defiance) pack there. Cal Wolfrum finished sixth overall. He (Wolfrum) didn’t quite get into that pack, but the (No.) 4, 5 and 6 guys ran together the whole race. We were really happy with that.
“We wanted to see how many guys we could get into the top 22, and get all-league honors; and we were able to get all five in there.”
Celina’s Ethan Ly (ninth, 17:28.95) and O-G’s Brent Siefker (10th, 17:30.39) also cracked the top 10 on Saturday.
On the girls’ side, Defiance nearly matched its counterparts’ score. Defiance ran away with the girls’ WBL crown, defeating second-place Celina 20-102. St. Marys finished a close third (107), while Wapakoneta (113) and Shawnee (136) were not far behind, in fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the remaining nine full squads were Van Wert (sixth, 145), Bath (seventh, 152), Kenton (eighth, 158) and O-G (ninth, 217).
Defiance sophomore Shay Soukup won the race in 19:54.53, while teammates Katie Crites (second, 19:55.53) and Ashley Weidenhammer (third, 19:56.17) were right on her heels.
Wapakoneta’s Paige Schneider (fourth, 20:08.35) and Van Wert’s Caylee Phillips (fifth, 20:15.22) were not far behind the Defiance trio. Bath’s Charis Barnes finished seventh (20:46.46). Shawnee’s Lexie Marshall came in ninth (20:56.19). Lauren Jackson led the Celina pack with an 11th-place finish (21:09.51).
“Today was a great day to show what we have, but it’s not all that we have,” Soukup said. “We’re going to keep moving forward to districts next, and then we’ll work from there.”
The Lincolnview boys and Columbus Grove girls notched Northwest Conference team titles on Saturday at the Van Wert Reservoir.
In the boys’ team standings, Lincolnview defeated second-place Columbus Grove 35-49. Crestview finished third (76), while Paulding (fourth, 99), Spencerville (fifth, 121), Bluffton (sixth, 132) and Allen East (205) rounded out the rest of the field.
Lincolnview’s Karter Tow won the boys’ race on Saturday, in a time of 16:44. Columbus Grove’s Johnny Schmiedebusch finished second (17:03).
The rest of Lincolnview’s pack included Alek Bowersock (third, 17:12), Jacob Keysor (fifth, 17:28), Devon Bill (seventh, 17:48) and Noah Daeger (19th, 19:02).
On the girls’ side, Columbus Grove took home the crown, slipping past second-place Lincolnview 26-53. Crestview (67), Paulding (104) and Ada (123) rounded out the remaining full squads.
Columbus Grove’s Alyssa Ellerbrock won in 19:45. Crestview’s Ragen Harting (20:04) and Ashley Bowen (20:13) finished second and third, respectively.
Columbus Grove’s other four scorers included Taylor Ellerbrock (fourth, 20:28), Erin Downing (fifth, 20:33), Leanndra Price (sixth, 20:50) and Sydney Witteborg (10th, 21:35).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.