SPENCERVILLE — There are some days when cross country runners focus primarily on defeating the competition, and not so much on setting personal-bests.
Saturday was one of those days.
At Saturday’s Spencerville Bearcat Invitational, area runners survived the wet, sloppy conditions on the 5,000-meter course.
For the St. Marys girls’ team, not only was the weather a huge challenge Saturday, but having just five runners available to compete was an additional obstacle.
St. Marys overcame all those challenges, en route to winning the team title in the girls’ Black Division (large schools) Saturday, slipping past second-place St. Henry 71-77. Shawnee (85) finished a close third. Decatur (Indiana) Bellmont (116) placed fourth, while Spencerville (139) and Bath (153) rounded out the top six teams in the 11-team field.
Leading the way for St. Marys on Saturday was senior Morgan Henschen, who finished second in 21 minutes, 34.6 seconds. Benjamin Logan’s Dani Widmark won the race in 21:08.2.
“Running in it – it was actually nice — because all we’ve been running in recently is the hot weather,” Henschen said. “The mud was a little hard to get through. But overall, I really like this race and course. They (the times) were about a minute or two slower. We are really happy. But right now we only have five runners, because one of them is injured.”
Rounding out the scorers for St. Marys were Lauren Cisco (23:08.7), Brianna Cisco (23:15.3), Bianca Endres (24:36.1) and Rosie Saunders (24:43.6).
In the boys’ Red Division (small schools), Perry freshman Braden Yingst and Lima Central Catholic junior Quentin Potempa battled for the entire race. However, Yingst pulled away down the stretch to notch the win in 17:57. Potempa finished second in 18:08.4.
“He’s surprised me quite a bit this year,” Perry coach Matt Pauff said about Yingst. “He’s already doing really well. We’re kind of careful with him right now. He’s still pretty young. He’s only a freshman, and he’s a long kid. So, I don’t want him to get any stress fractures or anything.”
Pauff said Yingst showed promise in middle school.
“We knew he was going to be pretty good,” Pauff said. “He set the mile (1,600-meter) record in the conference (track meet) during the spring. He broke into the 4s (4 minutes) in the mile (1,600 meters). He was good in junior high, but he wasn’t always winning. He’s starting to mature and come into his own a little bit.”
In the team standings of the boys’ Red Division, Botkins took the title, defeating second-place Houston by a wide margin, 55-102.
For the Parkway boys’ team, getting back to the Division III state cross country meet is the primary focus this fall.
Last season, Parkway had two individual Division III state-qualifiers — Kyle Roth and Matt Gaerke. In 2016, the Parkway boys’ team made it to the state meet.
On Saturday, Parkway looked to be heading in the right direction, as the Panthers finished a close second to Bellefontaine (Division II school) in the Black Division, 75-81. St. Marys (91) finished third, while Benjamin Logan (98), Shawnee (159) and Elida (173) rounded out the top six teams in the 12-team field.
Leading the way Saturday for Parkway was junior Roth, who won the race in 17:57. Roth’s all-time personal best is 16:48.
On Saturday, Roth took the lead and was never seriously challenged.
“It was bad,” Roth said about Saturday’s conditions. “With the stretch over there (through the woods), you just have to buckle down and be ready for it. Going out of the woods, I just about wiped out; but I was able to maintain my footing.”
Roth has high goals for this season.
“We have some work to do,” Roth said. “We want to make it back to the state meet this year. We went to state as a team two years ago.”
Added Parkway coach Ann Vian, “They said it’s not the same. They said it’s so much different running with just two guys, instead of having the whole team down there.”
In the girls’ Red Division, Bradford garnered the team title, defeating second-place Delphos St. John’s 52-85. There were 11 teams in the Red Division.
St. John’s had two runners finish in the top 10 Saturday. Addy Martin finished ninth (22:03.5), while teammate Kambrynn Rohr came in 10th (22:10.4).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.