Warren to host Scenic Hills XC invite on Saturday

VINCENT – Neil Brague has his fingers crossed for weather-friendly, running conditions when Warren hosts the Scenic Hills Lions Club Invitational Saturday at 10 a.m.

“We are hoping for cooler, less humid weather,” said the first-year Warrior cross country coach.

Even if it is on the tropical, steamy side, like at last weekend’s Broughton Memorial invite in Marietta, Warren is expecting a better outing on the race course.

“We should be at full strength this weekend with most everyone in the line-ups,” said Brague, whose boys and girls teams finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at Broughton. “We had a couple of kids in the boys race out due to minor injuries. We need them healthy in October.”

Senior Sam Goodman was one of those absentees in Warren’s season opening race in Marietta. A state qualifier as a junior, he was runner-up in a clocking of 17 minutes, 54.2 seconds in last year’s SH event.

At Broughton, senior Brent Ash paced the Warriors with a second-place finish in 18:04.40. The royal blue and white girls were led by senior Hannah Dugan’s 23:33.80.

The Scenic Hills field will also include Marietta, Waterford, Southern, Meadowbrook, Belpre, and Eastern.

Team-wise, Brague believes that it could be a repeat of last weekend’s meet.

“Marietta would be the boys and Eastern’s girls will be the teams to beat,” he said.

Dale Leeper is certainly hoping so as his Tiger boys’ squad was first at Broughton.

“We’re looking forward to the Scenic Hills Invite for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is close,” said the veteran MHS cross country boss. “Traveling to Columbus, Lancaster and points west and north can be a serious disadvantage. One of the reasons we always feel shortchanged by having to travel two hours by bus to our district and regional sites.”

Last year, the Marietta boys were runners-up to Warren and the girls second to Eastern at Scenic Hills.

“We have not seen any entry info, so not sure who will be at SH, but at this point, we’re more focused on developing our pack strategy,” Leeper said.

“Our high school boys and girls both did a nice job of executing our plan at the Broughton meet. Just need to move the girls’ pack up a bit.”

At Broughton, Jake Haught was seventh overall in 18:55.70. Scott Morris was next in 11th place (19:39.50) with Kody Phillips in 13th (19:48.20). Rounding out the Tiger pack which finished from 18th to 23rd were Collin Doughty, Yogi Tomasch, Nathan Matthews, Max Garrison and Jeffrey Davis.”

“It’s a good lesson for the guys,” Leeper said. “You don’t need one or two at the very front. You win as a team with five guys in the top 20. A lone wolf without a pack is just a lone wolf.

“So we look forward to Scenic Hills as another step in trying to make this philosophy part of who we are. We have a strong group of freshman guys who are buying in to this. We’ll see if we can further refine it at Warren this week.”

The MHS ladies are expected to be led by Kelsey Hall, an 11th-place finisher in 23:43.10 at Broughton.

“We’re not so much concerned about who will be there (at Warren),” Leeper continued. “The stronger the competition, the better, as we have to face all of the Pickerington, Dublin, Hilliard Olengtangy and Worthington schools -and others – to make it through our district meet. So our goal will be to take that next step in learning the value of the pack.”

Individually at SH, Fort Frye’s Jon Anderson will probably be the boy to beat, while Lady Cadet Mary Kate McIlroy could be the frontrunner.

Anderson, an All-Ohio honoree last season, was first in 17:30.10 at Broughton, while McIlroy was second in 21:32.80.