OTTAWA — Heading into the Division II district meet at Ottawa, Van Wert cross country coach Ryan Holliday knew his boys’ team needed to run as a cohesive pack, if it wanted to come away with the district title.
Wauseon, a team that Van Wert had faced a couple times during the regular season, was coming in with the same goal in mind.
When it was all said and done Saturday, both Van Wert and Wauseon placed three runners in the top 10 overall spots; however, the rest of Van Wert’s pack helped paved the way for a district title, 50-86, over second-place Wauseon. Ottawa-Glandorf ran a solid race, finishing third and claiming the final qualifying spot for next Saturday’s Tiffin regional at Hedges-Boyer Park. The top three teams and the top 12 finishers advance to next week’s boys’ regional.
“Wauseon had beat us head-to-head this year, essentially twice,” Holliday said. “So, we know, to be where we want to be in a couple weeks, that we got to get past Wauseon. They were the toughest competition, coming in. They have some really, really solid frontrunners, and we were basically trying to break up their top three or four guys. We knew if we could do that, because of our depth, that we would have a pretty good chance to win.”
Wauseon’s Kyle Vernot (16:20.2) and Joshua Lowry (16:36.1) finished 1-2, respectively, on the 5,000-meter course at Ottawa Memorial Park on Saturday. Van Wert’s Jacob Wasson (16:36.3) and Cal Wolfrum (16:40.5) placed third and fourth, respectively. The Cougars then had Gage Chiles (seventh, 17:25.2), Holden Reichert (17th, 17:48.7) and Keaton Brown (19th, 17:50.2) finishing close behind.
“That’s the one thing we try to work on and teach all season long – is finishing strong,” Holliday said. “We talk about finishing strong the last half of the race, especially that last mile. So, it was encouraging to see that.”
In the Division II girls’ district meet, the top four teams, and the top 16 individual placers advanced to the Tiffin regional.
Napoleon won the girls’ team crown, edging out Celina on the sixth-runner tiebreaker. Both teams scored 76 points. St. Marys finished third (107), while Bryan notched the fourth spot (117).
Napoleon’s Sydney Niekamp won the girls race in 19:45.9. Van Wert’s Caylee Phillips finished second (20:22.9).
In Division III, there were two district meets held at Ottawa. In all four races, the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to the Tiffin regional.
In the D-III, District 2 Meet, Ottoville’s Brendan Siefker jumped out to the early lead and wasn’t seriously challenged, en route to a winning time of 15:50.9. St. Henry’s Devin Huelskamp was a distant second (16:39.7).
“I went out pretty fast,” Siefker said. “We haven’t raced for almost two weeks, so I was pretty anxious.”
Siefker, the 2016 Division III state runner up, is trying to take it one race at a time.
“Hopefully, I can PR like last year,” Siefker said, in reference to last year’s performance at the state meet in Hebron. “It’s a pretty fast course. I would love to get into the 15:20s, but I have a tough race at Tiffin (regional) first. I haven’t really run that fast there.”
Lincolnview won the boys’ team title, slipping past second-place St. Henry 56-61. Columbus Grove finished third (79), while Coldwater came in fourth (118).
In the D-III, District 2 girls’ race, Columbus Grove ran away with the team title, defeating St. Henry 39-51. New Bremen finished third (70), while Fort Recovery nailed down the fourth spot (89).
Leading the way for Columbus Grove was Alyssa Ellerbrock, who won the race in 19:46.6. Teammate Erin Downing came in second (20:33.1). Columbus Grove’s other three scorers included Leanndra Price (fifth, 20:42.8), Taylor Ellerbrock (sixth, 20:47.8) and Sydney Witteborg (27th, 22:48.3).
In the boys’ D-III, District 1 race, Parkway’s Matt Gaerke (17:02.9) and Kyle Roth (17:16.9) finished 1-2, respectively, as Parkway (50) finished second to Minster (40). Antwerp finished third (101), while Crestview came in fourth (108).
In the girls’ D-III, District 1 race, Minster’s pack dominated the competition, as the Wildcats scored 19 points, en route to winning the district crown. Coldwater finished second (80), while Marion Local (91) and Lincolnview (93) rounded out the top four teams.
Minster’s Emma Watcke won the race in 18:55.9. The rest of Minster’s scorers were Kaitlynn Albers (third, 19:42), Mackenzie Bohman (fourth, 19:47.3), Gwendolyn Meiring (fifth, 20:06.9) and Cassie Francis (eighth, 20:19.5).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.