VAN WERT — It was something that Perry’s Brady Yingst did not forget.
Last cross-country season, Yingst was cruising through the competition. That was, until he competed at the Van Wert Health Invitational.
That was when Yingst’s friend, Anna’s Hayden Schmidt, outkicked Yingst down the stretch for the victory.
Same invite, different outcome.
At Saturday’s Van Wert Health Cross Country Invitational, Yingst left no doubt as he gapped the field late in the race and went on to win in a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 45.9 seconds on the 5,000-meter course around the Van Wert Reservoir/ Van Wert Health Hospital grounds.
Schmidt crossed the finish line in 16:33.2. Shawnee’s Isaiah Johns finished third (16:47.1).
“Going into today’s race, I knew I was going up against one of my best friends, Hayden Schmidt,” Yingst said. “I game planned for that. I knew I had more competition than usual.
“You have to focus on your own race. This is the first time I’ve won Van Wert. Last year, he (Schmidt) outkicked me toward the end. I know that’s one guy I’ll be competing against toward the end of the season. He had a great race today. But I was able to take care of it in the second half (of the race).”
Yingst, now a senior, pulled away from the pack late in Saturday’s race.
“I laid back that first mile and kind of held myself back from going out too hard, so I could save some energy for the second half of the race,” Yingst said. “I got to about a mile-and-a-half – close to two miles, going up the hill – and my coach told me to put the hammer down. To come through at 15:45 on a course like this – not great (weather) conditions – is great. I’ve never ran well here in the past. I was very, very happy with today.”
Last fall, Yingst placed ninth at the state meet in Division III. Yingst is feeling good about the progress he has made this year.
“At this point in the season – putting up back-to-back sub 16-minute performances, is what I’m ecstatic about,” Yingst said.
In Saturday’s final team standings for the boys, Van Wert won the team title, scoring 48 points. Lincolnview finished a distant second with 83 points. Shawnee (97), Anna (147) and Bluffton (148) rounded out the top five squads in the 15-team field.
Van Wert had a solid pack of runners Saturday.
Hunter Scherer led Van Wert with a fourth-place finish (17:01.5). Rounding out the top five runners for the Cougars were Gage Wannemacher (sixth, 17:15.9), Gage Springer (10th, 17:31.7), Drew Laudick (15th, 17:47.7) and John Kramer (18th, 18:07.8).
On the girls’ side, Ottawa-Glandorf junior Alexa Fortman pulled away down the stretch, en route to a winning time of 19:37.2. Waynesfield-Goshen junior Taylor Spencer finished a close second (19:41.4). Kalida sophomore Andrea Burgei came in third (19:52.8).
“I tend to start out on my own pace, not go out too fast and stay within striking distance. So, I can have that kick at the end,” Fortman said.
Saturday, Spencer jumped out to the early lead. However, Fortman eventually reeled Spencer in and then outkicked her down the stretch.
“At about the two-mile, I got out in front,” Fortman said. “She (Spencer) started to kick a little earlier than me. Then, I ended up closing the last 200 (meters) or so.”
Last season, Fortman was a state-qualifier in Division II, and Spencer was a state-qualifier in Division III.
In the girls final team standings Saturday, Anna notched the team title (62). Shawnee was a close second (76), while Parkway (122), Ottawa-Glandorf (122) and Delphos St. John’s (136) rounded out the top five teams. Parkway and O-G tied, however, Parkway was awarded third place by way of the sixth-runner tiebreaker. There were 11 teams that figured into the team scoring.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.