KALIDA — There’s always a learning curve when trying something new.
For Waynesfield-Goshen freshman Taylor Spencer, the learning curve doesn’t seem that significant, at least early on.
Spencer, a track standout throughout middle school, took the advice from her coaches to compete in cross country at the high school level.
So far, it appears Spencer received some sound advice.
At Saturday’s Kalida Wildcat Invitational at the Kalida Fish and Game Club, Spencer jumped out to an early lead on the 5,000-meter course, was challenged later in the race, but finally pulled away down the stretch in a winning time of 19 minutes, 26 seconds.
Lincolnview junior Madison Langdon, who reeled in Spencer, finished second in 19:45.
“I never ran cross country in junior high,” Spencer said. “The high school coach was like, ‘You’re doing pretty good in the mile. We want you to run the two mile (in high school track). So, why don’t you try running the 5K?’”
Spencer took her coach’s advice.
So far, Spencer’s best time in the 5,000 meters is 19:08, which she clocked at the Wapak Night Meet, earlier in the season.
On Saturday, Spencer got out to a huge lead in the first mile. However, in the second mile, Langdon caught up with Spencer.
In the final 400 meters, however, Spencer stepped on the accelerator and pulled away for the win.
“My coaches tell me that I always go way too fast in the first mile,” Spencer said. “So, they told me to slow it down and stay with the second-place girl; and once I get closer to the end, go a little faster and make her go with me.
“My coaches focus a lot on my breathing. That’s always been a problem, ever since I was in elementary. They always tell me, ‘It’s 3.1 miles. Pace yourself in between, so you have something left.’”
Rounding out the top five finishers in Saturday’s girls race was Van Buren’s Justine Hunt (20:31.3), Crestview’s Ragen Harting (20:44.6) and Van Buren’s Ella Webster (20:48.7). There were 119 finishers in Saturday’s girls race.
As a team, Waynesfield-Goshen finished 10th out of 14 full squads.
Van Buren won the girls team title Saturday, edging out Napoleon 88-95. St. Marys finished third (101), Crestview placed fourth (118) and Wapakoneta was fifth (133). Lincolnview (152) and Bath (160) rounded out the top seven teams in a field of 14 full squads.
On the boys side, Ottawa-Glandorf placed all five of its scorers in the 17-minute range, en route to winning the team title.
O-G’s tight pack of runners produced a winning score of 53 points. Elyria Catholic finished second (104), St. Marys was third (127), Lincolnview placed fourth (127) and Crestview was fifth (189). Van Buren (217) and Elida (229) rounded out the top seven teams in a field of 20 full squads. St. Marys notched third place, due to the sixth-man tiebreaker with Lincolnview.
Leading the way for O-G on Saturday was senior Kamron Maag, who placed third in 17:01.1. Rounding out the top five runners for the Titans were Parker Schomaeker (fifth, 17:09.5), Max Buddelmeyer (ninth, 17:26.8), Hunter Stechschulte (16th, 17:49.7) and Ty Buckland (22nd, 17:58.9). There were 217 finishers in Saturday’s boys race.
Elyria Catholic’s Matt Krese won the boys race in 16:53.4. St. Marys’ Noah Tobin finished a close second (16:57.3).
O-G coach Holly Flueckiger is not surprised at how her boys team is performing this season.
“I knew they had it in them, but we were taking it slow (at the beginning of the season), making sure that we hit our times,” Flueckiger said. “I knew as long as they believed in it, that they could do it. And it’s working.’
There are only two seniors in O-G’s pack of runners.
“I had a lot of young kids coming back (from last season), and we knew we needed that fifth guy,” Flueckiger said. “Ty Buckland is our fifth (runner). And we have Matt Schneeg (sixth runner), who is starting to get in it. So, they’re learning what to do.”
Flueckiger said she is looking forward to the Western Buckeye League Championships on October 12 at Defiance.
“We’ve ran at Defiance, and WBLs are at Defiance,” Flueckiger said. “We ran the Early Bird Invite (at Defiance, the first week of the season). So, we know what’s ahead of us and we know what we need to do.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.