VAN WERT — It normally comes down to when a runner makes their move in a race.
In Saturday’s Van Wert Health Invitational, the winners in the girls and boys cross country races, picked the opportune times to step on the accelerator.
In the boys race, Parkway’s Kyle Roth elected to pick it up on the hill on the second loop of the 5,000-meter course around the reservoir and hospital grounds, to put some space between him and the competition.
Once Roth gapped the lead pack, he then pulled away for the win in a time of 16 minutes, 57.2 seconds.
Shawnee’s Isaiah Johns was close behind in 17:02.2. Van Wert’s Hunter Sherer (17:11.9), Perry’s Braden Yingst (17:31.6) and Lincolnview’s Devon Bill (17:44.8) rounded out the top five runners in a field of 150 participants.
“On the second loop, going up the hill, I knew I had to make a move,” Roth said. “I feel confident on my strength of going up the hills. So, I just made my move. I drafted off them in the first lap and tried to conserve for that second lap.”
Roth’s best time this season was 16:42, which he clocked at the Mercer County Meet in late August.
Roth helped lead his team to a fourth-place finish in the 13-team field Saturday.
Roth said he realized, coming in, that the Van Wert course was going to be a challenge.
“We got to see the course, earlier this week,” Roth said. “I knew, going up the hill twice, that we had better be ready to get up that hill.”
Roth is hoping his team can make it to the Division III state meet this fall.
“We’re really starting to gel this year,” Roth said. “That’s my main goal – to get the team back to state.”
Roth, a senior, is a two-time Division III state qualifier. He also went to the state meet his freshman season with the team.
Ottawa-Glandorf won the boys team title Saturday, edging out Shawnee 61-65. Lincolnview finished third (79), Parkway was fourth (119), Van Wert placed fifth (123), while Crestview (147) and Elida (178) rounded out the top seven squads.
Leading the victorious O-G boys team was Parker Schomaeker (sixth, 17:51.2). Rounding out the top five runners for the Titans were Kamron Maag (10th, 18:00.4), Hunter Stechschulte (11th, 18:04.2), Max Buddlemeyer (13th, 18:05.8) and Ty Buckland (27th, 18:52.7).
On the girls side, Van Wert’s Caylee Phillips pulled away from the pack after the first mile, en route to a winning time of 20:20.3 in a field of 86 competitors.
In Saturday’s race, Lincolnview’s Madison Langdon claimed the early lead.
However, after going through the first mile, Phillips made her move and took the race over.
“It was right after the (first) mile mark,” Phillips said in reference to making her move against Langdon and the rest of the field. “She was so close to me, but I finally pulled away once we got to the second hill.
“I felt pretty confident. She (Langdon) is really good, though. I was actually a little scared at the beginning, because she was pretty far in front of me. Then, I finally caught up to her.”
Phillips, a Division II state qualifier in cross country last season, helped lead the Cougars to the team title on Saturday. Van Wert edged out Shawnee, 46-47, for the top spot.
Crestview finished third (80) and Lincolnview was fourth (107). Parkway (138), Ottawa-Glandorf (147), Spencerville (154) and Paulding (217) rounded out the field.
Rounding out the top five runners for Van Wert were Tyra McClain (10th, 22:12.2), Kyra Welch (11th, 22:13.9), Rachel Spath (12th, 22:17.4) and Ali Gemmer (16th, 22:47.5).
“Today, we went by place, because we knew this is a slower course,” Phillips said. “So, we weren’t worried about the times.
“This time of the year, times are good, but placement is more important. Going into WBLs, districts and regionals – that’s what counts – the place and not the time.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.