Cross country: Ottawa-Glandorf sweeps WBL team titles

OTTAWA — The table was set for the Ottawa-Glandorf cross country program.

The Titans had the opportunity to make history on their home cross country course at Memorial Park this fall, as Saturday morning they hosted the Western Buckeye League Championships.

The Ottawa-Glandorf boys have not won the Western Buckeye League title since 1985. The O-G girls have never won a WBL title in cross country.

That is now in the past.

O-G seized the moment Saturday by winning the boys and girls WBL team titles.

The O-G girls slipped past Shawnee, 63-66 to garner the WBL crown. Celina (96), Kenton (108) and St. Marys (128) rounded out the top five squads. There were 10 schools at the league meet.

On the boys side, O-G had a little larger gap, as the Titans scored 72 points, while second-place Bath registered 91 points. Van Wert (96), Shawnee (100) and Defiance (121) rounded out the top five teams.

“I’m thrilled. … I couldn’t be happier,” O-G head coach Holly Flueckiger said. “We’re fortunate that it can be here (on O-G’s home course). We know our course. So, that is really helpful.

“I knew we could do it (win the WBL title). We worked on some strategies, because we knew it was going to be close. That was a little scary. I was getting a little nervous there for a little bit.”

Leading the way Saturday for O-G was senior Alexa Fortman, who finished second on the 5,000-meter course in a time of 18 minutes, 59.97 seconds. Teammate Madelyn Hovest placed fifth (19:18.04). Rose Turnwald (17th, 21:10.43), Corinne Closson (18th, 21:13.97) and Anna Buddelmeyer (21st, 21:25.45) rounded out the five scorers for the Titans.

Fortman was right on the heels of Celina senior Kaylie Dameron, who won the race in 18:54.53.

“I was just trying to stay within striking distance (of Dameron),” Fortman said. “My ultimate goal was to score as well as possible for the team, (in order) to win. I really wanted to focus on God this race, just follow his plan, and just trust in that.”

Flueckiger said she has emphasized to her team all season long, the importance of running in a tight pack.

“(It was the) first time in O-G history for the girls to win the WBL. We have so much depth; and we needed everybody, today,” Flueckiger said with a grin.

Fortman is looking forward to next week’s district meet at Columbus Grove. She feels like her team is prepared for the challenge.

“Our coaches have done a good job of pushing us all season, and motivating us. We’re focused on passing one more person,” Fortman said.

Shawnee placed three runners in the top eight overall spots Saturday.

Molly Stump led Shawnee with a third-place finish (19:06.99). Alaina Williams (fourth, 19:12.77) and Jenna Stump (eighth, 20:10.28) were not far behind. Savannah Hohe (22nd, 21:28.32) and Tayma Jmiai (30th, 21:52.19) rounded out the scorers for the Indians.

For Celina’s Kaylie Dameron, it was the third time that she has won the WBL title. On Saturday, Dameron did not get out too fast, early on. However, by the two-mile mark, she took the race over.

“I knew I had to get a good gap (on Fortman),” Dameron said with a grin. “I knew the last 800 (meters), I would have to kick it hard.”

Last spring track season, Fortman was the Division II state champion in the 400- and 800-meters. Her winning time of 2:08.60 in the 800 was a Division II state record and a Division II state-meet record.

For the O-G boys, sophomore Ty Rosengarten led the way Saturday with a second-place finish (16:25.51). Ty Buckland (11th, 17:04.91), Cooper Fischer (14th, 17:15.79), Hunter Stechschulte (22nd, 17:41.29) and Isaac Macke (23rd, 17:42.95) were the rest of O-G’s scorers Saturday.

“Coming in, I didn’t have a time (for a goal),” Rosengarten said. “My main goal was top three (overall).”

Rosengarten said his team has been focused all season.

“We’ve been talking about it (winning the WBL team title) all season. It’s amazing that we made it a reality. The whole week (leading up to the WBL Championships), we talked about how the race was going to go; and we came out and did it,” he said.

Flueckiger said her boys team knew what it needed to do Saturday.

“They haven’t won (WBL title) since 1985. The boys did everything that we asked them to do. They knew that every person counted, too. I told them that it was theirs to lose.”

Shawnee junior Noah Williams led Saturday’s race from start to finish, en route to a winning time of 16:13.77. Last season, Williams finished second at the WBL Championships.

“I knew I had some good competition,” Williams said in reference to Saturday’s race. “Ty Rosengarten, a sophomore, is a great runner. So, it was nice running against him. Wapak’s Axton Fosnaugh (fourth, 16:50.98), is really good, too. But I knew what I had to do; and I got it done.”

Williams took control of Saturday’s race, right from the start. Williams said he approaches each race with the mindset of taking it over, early on.

“I just like to run the race. … I don’t look behind,” Williams said. “I just want to trust my instincts.”

The Bath boys team made history Saturday as well.

Bath’s second-place finish was the best WBL finish in school history.

Jacob Wireman led Bath on Saturday with a ninth-place finish (16:57.79). Landon Jones (16th, 17:28.18), Connor Raines (18th, 17:29.32), Everett Bensman (20th, 17:33.34) and Jaden Ryan (28th, 18:11.20) were the five scorers for the Wildcats.

“We figured, basically, that we could be anywhere from first to seventh, depending if a couple kids went here or there,” Bath head coach Dan Grime said. “Everybody ran kind of how it was expected. If one kid runs crazy and moves up, or one kid moves down, it might flip-flop things. But it kind of played out how we expected.

“Early in the season, we ran against Van Wert, and they beat us by two (points). We were hoping to improve and catch them. We got them by three (points), today.”

Grime is looking forward to seeing what his boys team can do at next weekend’s Division II district meet at Columbus Grove.

“We will see a lot of the same teams next week. So, it could be as competitive there next week at Columbus Grove,” Grime said.

Mark Altstaetter wrote this story for Reach the Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.