SPENCERVILLE — For most cross country runners, it’s all about running in a pack.
However, for the select few, separating from the pack is the main goal.
At Saturday’s Spencerville Bearcat Invitational, both Shawnee sophomore Isaiah Johns and Perry sophomore Brady Yingst, sped out to early leads in their respective races and were never seriously challenged on Spencerville’s 5,000-meter course.
In the boys large school division, Johns gapped the competition early and went on to win in 16 minutes, 48.9 seconds. Parkway’s Kyle Roth was his closest competitor, finishing second in 17:04.2.
In the boys small school division, Yingst led from start to finish, clocking a time of 16:48.1. Botkins’ Collin Watterson was second to Yingst in 17:17.2.
Johns’ performance helped lead Shawnee to the boys team title. Shawnee defeated second-place South Adams (Indiana) 52-72. St. Marys finished third (105). Parkway (126), Van Buren (140), Benjamin Logan (154) and Elida (180) rounded out the top seven teams in the 13-team field.
Johns wanted to set the pace Saturday.
“I started out a little quick. I wanted to raise up the tempo a little bit,” Johns said. “I came through first in that first mile.
“I kept looking back a little bit. I just wanted to make sure I was in the lead. I ended up pulling away with it.”
Johns clocked his all-time personal best (16:39) at the Bob Shul Invitational in the first meet of this season.
“I was looking for a 16:20, but I didn’t have that much competition,” Johns said about Saturday’s race. “So, this (16:48) works out really well for me. … I’m good with that.”
Longtime Shawnee coach Russ Holly is happy with Johns’ progress.
“Last week (Wapak Night Meet), he went out too fast (early on),” Holly said. “Today, he went out and ran what we actually planned on. … So, not too bad. We still have some time.”
Johns had a pack of teammates behind him Saturday. Rounding out the top five runners for Shawnee were Kaleb Egri (seventh, 17:48.5), Justin Altenbach (eighth, 17:56.8), Trevor Bowers (12th, 18:11.2) and Trever Miller (24th, 18:48.4). There were 145 runners in the boys large school race.
In the girls large school race, Shawnee was just edged out for the team title by South Adams, 72-74. Carey finished third (101), while Van Buren came in fourth (124). St. Marys (132), Bellefontaine (146) and Wapakoneta (165) rounded out the top seven spots. Freshman Alaina Williams was the top Shawnee runner Saturday, finishing seventh (20:51.8).
Carey sophomore Sarah Reinhart led from start to finish, winning in 19:54.6.
“We’re getting a pretty good effort out of the kids,” Holly said. “We have good senior leadership. The kids are working hard. We have goals to go farther than we did last year. It was a good effort today. It’s still early in the season, but I like where we are going.”
In the boys small school race, Yingst got out fast and was never challenged.
“I knew I had some decent runners behind me,” Yingst said. “I knew if I got out in front, I could probably hang on. I’m thinking about splits and getting my time down. But when I get a lead like that, I just want to keep hammering it.”
Yingst is coming off a personal-best performance at last week’s Wapak Night Meet, where he clocked a time of 16:24.7.
“It (Wapak) gave me a real confidence boost, because I had not broken the 16s yet (this season); and I broke it big,” Yingst said. “That really brought my confidence up for this week.”
In the final team standings of the boys small school race, Botkins won the title with 38 points. Covington came in second (74), while Houston (78) and Jackson Center (121) were third and fourth, respectively. Ottoville (158), Antwerp (181) and Waynesfield-Goshen (195) claimed the next three spots.
In the girls small school race, St. Henry notched the team title. The Redskins defeated second-place Delphos St. John’s 42-65. Botkins came in third (94), while Ansonia was fourth (120). Antwerp (122), Houston (169) and Spencerville (185) rounded out the top seven squads.
St. Henry’s Katie Kunkler won the girls small school race (20:49.4).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.