Not only did Belpre High School's boys cross country team win the Division 3 Southeast District championship at Rio Grande Saturday for the second year in a row, but the Golden Eagles also had a girl qualify for next Saturday's regional meet at North Pickerington High School.
Led by sophomore Cray Sistrunk, who claimed the individual district title in a time of 17 minutes, 23 seconds, Belpre's boys dominated Saturday's competition, placing three runners in the top five.
Junior Kyle Windland was third with a time of 17:55 and senior Matthew Davis fifth in 18:17. Also contributing to Belpre's winning total were junior Matthew Lopreste, who placed 17th in 19:57 and senior Joel Starner who was 29th in 20:43. Senior Kenny Schultz was 44th in 21:06 and sophomore Hunter Burkey 55th in 23:04.
"Every one of our runners ran an outstanding race,'' said Belpre coach Jim Cunningham. "They all bettered their times from last year.''
It's been a trying season for the Belpre cross country team. Its No. 2 runner from a year ago elected not to return, the No. 5 runner from last year graduated and the team has been hit hard by injuries.
But the Golden Eagles appear to peaking at the right time. Although the competition at next year's regional will be much stiffer than what Belpre faced Saturday, Cunningham believes the Eagles will be in the hunt for one of the four berths to the state meet.
Joining Belpre's runners at the district meet will be Eli Strahler from Waterford, who finished second behind Sistrunk.
In the girls competition, Belpre senior Mackenzie Rice earned a spot in the regional with a 15th place finish, crossing the finish line at Rio Grande College in 23:28.
Although the weather was cool, Belpre's runners were prepared for the conditions, including two hills that make the course particularly difficult.
In Division 2, the Warren boys, a third-place finisher, will also be competing in the regional meet. Parker Blain paced the Warriors with a third-place finish in 16:54. Sam Goodman was sixth in 17:08, and Brent Ash was eighth in 17:17. The other royal blue and white scorers were Jed McGirr (18:42) and Matt Neehouse (18:51).
The Warren girls team finished sixth overall with Hannah Dugan placing 14th overall in 21:47.
In the Division 3 East District championship at Cambridge, both the Fort Frye and Caldwell boys' and girls' teams qualified for regional competition. The Cadet boys were runners-up overall with Jon Anderson leading the way with a second-place finish in 16:12. Jordan Anderson was fourth in 16:28; Matthew Cheeseman, sixth in 16:44; Ford McElroy, 10th in 17:10; and Matthew Roush, 18th in 17:45.
Mary Kate McElroy led the third-place Lady Cadets with a fourth-place time of 19:30; Katie Hart was 11th in 20:36; Alex Medina, 13th in 20:44; Natalie Hart, 17th in 21:15; and Phoebe Thompson, 35th in 23:21.
The district third-place Caldwell boys were paced by Tanner Harding's third-place finish in 16:13. Jonathan Niswonger was 11th in 17:19; Calvin Parmiter, 13th in 17:28; Matt Zwick, 16th in 17:41; and Alex Gregg, 19th in 17:47.
The district second-place Lady Redskins were led by Jenna Furr's fifth-place finish in 19:41; Katie Saling was sixth in 19:55; Lindsey Furr, 12th in 20:40; Lexi Waller, 21st in 21:32; and Anika VanHoose, 28th in 22:52.