COLUMBUS GROVE — There’s nothing sweeter than winning on your home course.
The Columbus Grove cross country program dominated Saturday at the annual Columbus Grove Invitational.
Both the girls’ and boys’ Columbus Grove squads took home the gold Saturday.
In the girls’ Small School Division, Columbus Grove slipped past a tough Woodmore squad, 85-92 to win the team title. Lincolnview (116) finished third, Carey (148) placed fourth, while Hopewell-Loudon (168) was fifth in the 16-team field.
Columbus Grove junior Alyssa Ellerbrock pulled away from Hicksville senior Tiffany Chiappetta in the final 400 meters to win the race in a school-record time of 18 minutes, 52.2 seconds on the 5,000-meter course near Clymer Stadium. Chiappetta, who was right behind Ellerbrock for most of the race, finished a full four seconds behind Ellerbrock.
Ellerbrock broke a 25-year-old school record on Saturday.
“That was my main goal for this season,” Ellerbrock said. “Last week, there was some bad weather, and I was a little off. Last year, I PR’d on this course and I was just a few seconds off (the school record). This year the weather was really good for this race. So, I was just going to go for it.”
Columbus Grove sophomore Erin Downing finished fifth (19:53.1). Rounding out the five scorers for Columbus Grove were Leanndra Price (11th, 21:10), Morgan Deffenbaugh (31st, 22:49.2) and Zoe Stechschulte (37th, 22:57.7).
“Overall, it was a really good performance,” Columbus Grove girls coach Jason Jay said. “Obviously, Alyssa ran really, really well. For Erin (Downing), it was her first time under 20 minutes. For our third runner (Price), it was her best time of the season. They all stepped up really big today. So, overall, I’m really pleased this early in the season.”
On the boys’ side of the Small School Division, Columbus Grove’s pack was too much for second-place Lincolnview to overcome. The Bulldogs placed its five scorers in the top 17 overall spots, en route to a winning score of 53 points. Lincolnview was a distant second with 99 points. Minster (109) finished third, while Mapleton (120) and Edgerton (180) rounded out the top five teams. There were 21 schools that fielded full teams in that division.
Junior Johnny Schmiedebusch led Columbus Grove with a fifth-place finish in 16:53.3. Rounding out the top five runners for the Bulldogs were Grant Mumaugh (seventh, 17:11.8), Caleb Stechschulte (ninth, 17:16), Carson Closson (15th, 17:30.7) and Breece Pringle (17th, 17:45.2).
Ayersville’s Noah Fisher won the race in 15:37.
“We have a pretty solid core this year,” Columbus Grove boys coach Terry Schnipke said. “It’s a lot of fun to coach them.
“We had a couple freshmen (Stechschulte, Closson) come in. We knew they were going to be good, but we didn’t know how good. And they motivated Johnny (Schmiedebusch), Jordan (Bellman, 25th, 17:59), Breece (Pringle) and Grant (Mumaugh) to step up their game a little bit too.”
In the girls’ Large School Division, Minster nearly recorded a perfect score (15 points), defeating its nearest opponent Findlay, 18-66. St. Marys (135), Anna (164) and Wauseon (210) rounded out the top five teams in a field of 18 squads.
Minster junior Emma Watcke, last season’s Division III cross country state champion, won Saturday’s race in 19:08.9. Kaitlynn Albers (second, 19:43.8), Ella Boate (fourth, 20:14.2), Mackenzie Bohman (fifth, 20:18.7) and Gwendolyn Meiring (sixth, 20:38.2) rounded out the remaining five scorers for Minster.
Watcke jumped out to a commanding lead early in the race and was never challenged.
“I just try to take it 30 seconds at a time,” Watcke said. “I try to get to a point, and once I get there, try to continue from there.”
In the boy’s Large School Division, New Haven (Indiana) took first with 81 points. Findlay (105), Wauseon (116), Ottawa-Glandorf (132) and Liberty-Benton (138) made up the top five teams in that division, which consisted of 18 full squads.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.