OTTAWA — Winning a cross country district title isn’t easy.
Defending a district title can be an even greater challenge.
The Van Wert boys’ cross country team won the district crown a year ago.
At Saturday’s Division II district meet at Ottawa Memorial Park’s 5,000-meter course, Western Buckeye League-foes Ottawa-Glandorf and Shawnee gave Van Wert all it could handle. However, Van Wert staved off the field to garner its second straight district title.
Van Wert scored 70 points Saturday. O-G (77) and Shawnee (80) were close behind the Cougars. Those top three teams advance to next Saturday’s regional meet at Tiffin’s Hedges-Boyer Park. Napoleon (133) and Wauseon (137) rounded out the top five teams in the 12-team field.
Along with the top three teams, any individual finishing in the top 12 overall spots Saturday also advance to the D-II Tiffin regional. Then at the Tiffin regional, the top three boys’ teams and top 12 individuals will advance to the state meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron on Nov. 3.
The top five runners for Van Wert on Saturday were Jacob Wasson (fourth, 17:01.5), Gage Chiles (seventh, 17:14.6), Hunter Sherer (12th, 17:33.9), Holden Reichert (23rd, 18:05.3) and Gage Wannemacher (27th, 18:13.1).
“We’re excited,” Van Wert coach Ryan Holliday said. “Our goal, coming in, was to defend our championship from last year. We did that. We wanted to take that next step. We knew O-G ran tough at the WBL and they showed it again today. We had some good competition. Today was about us being better than we were last week; and we did that.”
Wauseon’s Michael Cheezan won the boys’ D-II race in 16:56.1.
Leading the way for O-G was Kamron Maag (ninth, 17:23.8). Rounding out the top five runners for the Titans were Parker Schomaeker (15th, 17:42.3), Max Buddelmeyer (16th, 17:53), Connor Niese (17th, 17:55.7) and Josh Rosengarten (24th, 18:06.8).
On the girls’ side in Division II, the top four teams, along with any individual in the top 16 spots, advance to the regional meet at Tiffin. Then, the top four girls’ teams and top 16 individuals at Tiffin will qualify for the state meet. Napoleon (62) won Saturday’s district title. Shawnee (92) was runner-up, while Wauseon (98) and Kenton (106) comprised the top four teams that will compete at Tiffin next Saturday. Celina (118) finished a close fifth.
Longtime Shawnee coach Russ Holly will be sending both his boys’ and girls’ teams to the regional meet.
“The whole thing is, as a pack, I told them they had to all be through the first mile in the first 30 (spots),” Holly said. “Then, I told them that when you are at the 2-mile, you need to be in the top 25. So, they (the girls’ team) were pretty good in doing their job. It’s about the pack. The pack is what wins the race.”
The top five runners for Shawnee were Lily Cleaves (10th, 20:44.3), Anne Hardy (17th, 21:30.9), Lexie Marshall (20th, 21:51.9), Emily Bryan (21st, 21:56.4) and Hanna Watt (24th, 22:16.9).
Van Wert’s Caylee Phillips won the D-II girls’ race in 19:44.9. Phillips’ closest competitor was Wauseon’s Magdalena Duden (20:12.8). Phillips was coming off a dominant win at the Western Buckeye League Championships last Saturday.
“Last year, I got second (districts). So, getting first this year is an improvement,” Phillips said with a smile.
Phillips seemed to be in control throughout the entire race Saturday.
“I was in the lead for basically the whole time,” Phillips said. “It was kind of hard, because I really didn’t have anyone to compete with. So, I kind of knew my time wasn’t going to be there. But, I’m still shooting for the school record (next couple weeks).”
Added Holliday, “That was a good opportunity for her (Phillips) to get into a good postseason race, and do what she has done all season. She ran really well.”
There were two Division III districts at Ottawa on Saturday.
In D-III, District 1, the Minster girls’ team placed its five scorers in the top nine overall spots, en route to the district title. Minster scored 23 points Saturday. Second-place Lincolnview tallied 91 points. Crestview (112) and Fort Recovery (113) rounded out the top four teams that will advance to Tiffin. The top 16 individuals also advance to Tiffin. At Tiffin, the top eight teams, along with the top 32 individuals will advance to the state meet on the girls’ side.
Minster’s Emma Watcke, last year’s D-III state champion, convincingly won Saturday’s race in 18:58.1.
In the boys’ D-III, District 1 race, Lincolnview pulled away for the district crown, defeating runner-up Parkway 42-65. Ayersville (130) and Coldwater (132) nabbed the next two qualifying spots. At Tiffin, the top seven boys’ teams, along with the top 28 individuals will qualify for the state meet.
Lincolnview’s pack consisted of Alek Bowersock (second, 16:51.4), Karter Tow (third, 16:53.3), Devon Bill (12th, 17:41.3), Jacob Keysor (14th, 17:48.8) and Collin Puckett (17th, 18:12.6).
In the girls’ D-III, District 2 race, Coldwater (49) edged out Columbus Grove (55) for the district title. New Bremen (82) and Delphos St. John’s (93) rounded out the top four squads.
Columbus Grove’s Alyssa Ellerbrock won the D-III, District 2 race in 19:18.7.
In D-III, District 2 boys’ competition, Columbus Grove (31) topped Minster (37) for the team title. Antwerp (117) and St. Henry (146) also advance.
It was a battle for first place in the D-III, District 2 boys’ race. Minster’s Alex Albers (16:42) edged out Columbus Grove’s Johnny Schmiedebusch (16:51.8) for the win.
Rounding out the scorers for Columbus Grove were Jordan Bellman (fifth, 17:15.6), Breece Pingle (seventh, 17:24.5), Carson Closson (eighth, 17:27.5) and Caleb Stechschulte (ninth, 17:27.7).