OTTAWA — Sometimes it’s just a matter of breaking it down.
Waynesfield-Goshen sophomore Taylor Spencer wasn’t running cross country a few years ago.
In middle school, Spencer was a stellar runner in track.
Last year as a freshman, Spencer added the 5,000-meter cross country race to her repertoire.
During the past couple years, Spencer’s coaches have been breaking down the 5K, in order to teach her how to run the longer race.
It looks like Spencer has it figured out.
At Saturday’s Kalida Wildcat Invitational at the Kalida Fish and Game Club, Spencer separated from the pack of runners right from the start and went on to record a stellar winning time of 18 minutes, 17.2 seconds, a new personal best for her.
Archbold’s Kylie Sauder finished a distant second (19:00.8). Lincolnview’s Madison Langdon was a close third (19:10.8). Ottawa-Glandorf’s Alexa Fortman (19:56.6) and St. Marys’ Ellen Schloemer (19:56.8) rounded out the top five runners in a field of 115 competitors.
Spencer left little doubt on who was going to win Saturday’s race as she gapped the field of runners, early on.
“I always like to start really fast, so I don’t have to worry about passing at the end,” Spencer said. “Whenever I get a really big lead, I tell myself, ‘I just have to start now. … I really need to push myself’. … I really wanted to PR today.”
Last year as a freshman, Spencer placed sixth in Division III at the state meet.
“I want to run under 18 (minutes) by the end of the year,” Spencer said. “Last year, I just wanted to run as fast as I could. Now, my coaches have really broken it down. So, it’s been very helpful.”
This season, Spencer is confident that she can do as well, if not better than last year.
“I got sixth at state (2019),” Spencer said. “I was the first freshman to finish (at the D-III state meet). So, I was really happy about that.
“My goal, again, is (getting) top eight at state. (Finishing) top three is my ultimate goal.”
In the final team standings for the girls Saturday, Napoleon slipped past Van Wert for the team title, 78-83. Ottawa-Glandorf (98) was a close third. Archbold (113) and Crestview (128) rounded out the top five teams in a field of 11 full squads. Waynesfield-Goshen placed eighth (184).
Van Wert, who was coming off a sweep at last week’s Ottawa-Glandorf Blue/Gold Invitational, came away with more hardware at Saturday’s Wildcat Invitational.
On the boys’ side, Van Wert defeated Western Buckeye League foe Ottawa-Glandorf 81-108. Elyria Catholic (120), Lincolnview (135) and Archbold (172) rounded out the top five schools in a field of 23 full teams.
Asanke Steyer (fourth, 16:46), Gage Wannemacher (fifth, 16:50.2), Gage Springer (ninth, 17:08.5), Jayden Welker (27th, 17:54.9) and Jacob Wasson (36th, 18:09) were the five scorers for Van Wert.
In the girls race, Kyra Welch led Van Wert with a seventh-place finish (20:14).
“Overall, we’re really happy,” Van Wert head coach Ryan Holliday said. “On the guys’ side, we were missing our top guy (Hunter Sherer). This was supposed to be our off week, when the season started. We had Tiffin (Carnival) cancelled, so we added this one.
“I was really happy at how our teams raced today. On our girls team, we were without someone from our top five as well. This was our first time here at this course, and we really enjoyed it. I liked how we moved up throughout the race – our guys, especially. That really helped us. We came in, knowing that the (paths in the) woods were tight. So, we talked about starting our finish early; and they did a good job. …Moving up before the woods put us in good position,” Holliday said.
In the boys race, Bluffton’s Erik Nygaard came in third (16:44.6).
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