CELINA – Last season, the Celina girls cross country team qualified for the state cross country meet.
This season, Celina is looking to get back to state.
The Bulldogs looked strong at Saturday’s Celina Rotary Invitational at Wright State University – Lake Campus, as they took first place in a field of six teams.
Celina outdistanced second-place Decatur Bellmont (Indiana), 27-76. Benjamin Logan finished third (84), Jay County (Ind.) placed fourth (94), while New Haven (Ind., 105) and Bellefontaine (111) rounded out the field in the Section 1 race.
At Saturday’s Celina Rotary Invitational, the races were divided into three sections, due to the COVID-19 restrictions. One of the mandates for cross country this season, is to keep the field of runners to no more than 150 competitors per race.
Just like last season, the Dameron sisters — Kaylie and Joscelyn — led the way for the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Kaylie, a sophomore, pulled away early into the 5,000-meter race and won in a time of 20 minutes, 1.42 seconds. Joscelyn, a junior, finished a distant second (21:12.60).
“I just wanted to get my best first race (of the season),” Kaylie said. “I was hoping to get into the 19s, but I’m fine with that (time) today. I want to qualify for state, individually. My goal time is to be in the 18:30s.”
Kaylie’s all-time personal best is 18:57, which she ran at last year’s regional meet at Tiffin, where she placed eighth overall.
The elder Dameron sister said she focuses on staying close to her sister.
“I usually try to stay up with her,” Joscelyn said. “That pushes me a lot harder. If she’s up there, I aim to be up there.”
Last season, Celina made it to the Division II state meet, where it finished 19th. The Bulldogs qualified for state by placing fourth at the Tiffin regional.
This year, Celina has its sights set high.
“We lost two seniors. … But we have a good, solid team right now,” Kaylie said. “We have good depth. I think we could do some great things this year.”
Rounding out the top five runners for Celina on Saturday were Rose Kraner (fifth, 23:47.51), Tatum Andrew (ninth, 24:33.59) and Kyleah Giesige (12th, 24:46.12).
Elida senior Ninzi Sackinger finished eighth overall (24:21.08) in the Section 1 race.
Winning the boys team title in the Section 1 race Saturday was Decatur Bellmont (23). Bellmont placed its top five runners in the top 10 spots. New Haven finished second (52), Bellefontaine was third (66), Celina placed fourth (119), Elida was a close fifth (129). Jay County (Ind., 139) and Lima Senior (188) rounded out the field.
Bellmont junior Deion Guise won the Section 1 boys race in a time of 17:01.56.
Guise helped pace two of his teammates throughout the race. Isaac Fuelling (second, 17:06.75) and Jordan Garlinger (third, 17:09.62) stayed close to Guise the entire time.
“The first 400 (meters) was a bit crowded, but after that I felt like I had full control of the race,” Guise said.
“I’ve been doing a lot higher mileage, and I think that helped me sustain my pace today.”
Guise’s all-time personal best is 16:34.
The top area boys finisher in Section 1 Saturday was Elida senior Sean Dancs (10th, 18:41.72). Dancs was with the lead pack the first mile. However, after the first mile, the lead pack made a move and pulled away from Dancs.
“I figured it was going to happen, eventually,” Dancs said. “I didn’t know exactly when they (Bellmont runners) were going to do it (pull away).
“I’m usually not up there, but I started out fast today. I wanted to get my 5:30 first mile, and I did. They just took off after that first mile, and I couldn’t keep up.”
In Section 2 Saturday, Fort Loramie won the girls team title with a perfect score of 15 points. Kenton (83), Coldwater (84), St. Marys (85) and Parkway (114) rounded out the field.
Fort Loramie won the boys team title in Section 2
In Section 3, St. Henry garnered the girls team title. On the boys side, Marion Local won the team crown.