Warren boys win Scenic Hills cross country invitational

VINCENT – Most days, Warren High School senior Parker Blain doesn’t cross the finish line of a cross country meet more than two hours after the scheduled start time.

And if he did, you wouldn’t expect him to win the race by more than 30 seconds.

But that was just the case Saturday as lightning forced the delay of the annual Scenic Hills Lions Club Invitational in Vincent more than an hour and 20 minutes.

Thing is, all that delay did was make it take a little longer for Blain and Eastern’s Asia Michael to dominate their respective fields.

Blain paced the Warren boys to at least their ninth straight title at the event while Michael led a Eagle team that had four runners place in the top five.

“The course was a little sloppy,” Blain said. “It got kinda hot once the rain went away, but I still managed a decent time.”

Blain’s winning time of 17:20.9 was a tad better than decent, as he finished 34 seconds ahead of teammate Sam Goodman and nearly a full minute ahead of Belpre’s Cray Sistrunk, who took third.

Another Warrior, Brent Ash, came in fourth as the Warriors took a 26-48 win over second place Marietta.

That hard work paid dividends for the Warrior boys, who had five runners place in the top 20 to preserve the legacy of team titles for the hosts.

Marietta, which came in second on the boys’ side, had their five runners in the top 25 led by Jake Haught’s ninth place finish but couldn’t keep up with the strong pace set by Blain and the front runners. Haught was a full two minutes behind the winning time, and the Tigers didn’t have another runner cross the finish line until Kody Phillips came in 14th.

Still, it was a positive day for the youthful Tiger team as they started to develop pack running, particularly on the girls’ side where four runners placed within six spots of each other to guide the Tigers to a second place finish.

Pack running certainly guided Eastern to its win on the girls’ side, as the Eagles had Michael, Taylor Palmer, Keri Lawrence and Laura Pullins all finish within 1:32 of each other at the top of the field.

Only Warren’s Hannah Dugan separated the flock of Eagles, as she placed third in a time of 21:43. As a team, the Warriors finished 10 points behind second place Marietta with both schools chasing Eastern.

With several kids out due to injury, the Belpre Golden Eagles had just four runners on the boys side and three on the girls. Despite those setbacks, Belpre performed well as Sistrunk and Kyle Windland both finished in the top 10.

Sistrunk placed third while Kyle Windland came in seventh overall in a time of 19:13.

Like the Golden Eagles, the Waterford Wildcats also saw their few but mighty runners turn in strong performances as Eli Strahler claimed sixth overall in 18:42 while Jacob McCutcheon followed Windland’s footsteps in eighth.

On the girls’ side, the Wildcats’ lone runner, Maggie Kroll, came in 11th overall while Belpre had Mackenzie Rice lead its trio of runners with a 22nd place finish.

So while it may have taken them a little longer to get to the starting line, crossing the finish line proved to be no real challenge as the storm clouds faded away and the sun began to shine by midday.