Regional XC meet Saturday at Pickerington

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Fort Frye’s Justin Anderson, right, and Warren’s Trent Sayre finished first and second, respectively, in the Scenic Hills Invitational earlier this season in Vincent. Both runners have advanced to regional competition, which will take place this weekend.

Collin Doughty and Ciara Space each will be toeing the D1 Pickerington regional cross country starting line at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The two Marietta High runners qualified for the event at last weekend’s Central District meet at Watkins Memorial High.

“They both ran incredible races at districts with PRs in a very competitive race,” said first-year MHS cross country boss Amanda Mercer.

Doughty, a senior and a state qualifier last year, completed the 5K distance in a personal record of 16 minutes, 29.27 seconds, which was good for 15th place overall in the race.

Space, a freshman, finished 24th in a clocking of 20:05.28.

At stake in the regional meet is a berth in the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships in Hebron Nov. 4.

“Looking ahead to regionals, we are up against the fastest runners from every district and fewer people advance than last week,” Mercer said. “We are going to have to run fast and hard and that is the focus and goal of all our practices this week.

“Regardless of the outcome, making it to regionals in Division 1 is quite the accomplishment, and we couldn’t be more proud as coaches of the effort that was put forth by the entire team this past weekend (at Watkins Memorial).”

Also, at Pickerington will be runners representing Warren, Fort Frye, Caldwell, and Belpre.

Warren junior Trent Sayre finished fifth overall in 16:34.42 in the D2 Rio Grande SE District to qualify for regional competition. He will be seeking his second straight state meet appearance.

“Trent qualified out,” said Warriors coach Neil Brague. “He was fifth overall, but he did not have his best race. If he’s going to the state meet again this season, then he is going to have to run a lot better at Pickerington North.”

The Warren girls’ team placed sixth in the district to qualify for regional. Top seven teams advance.

Junior Casey Brague and freshman Devanne Reynolds qualified outright with 18th- and 27th-place finishes. (Top 28 individuals advanced.) The former was timed in 20:42,75, while the latter finished in 21:06.68.

Joining Brague and Reynolds will be Caroline Stollar (22:32.89), Taylor Appleby (23:54.53), Caitlyn Burroughs (24:12.60), Savannah Jarvis (24:48.07), and Jenna Walters (26:38.35).

“Bottom line is that these kids are going to have to accept the fact that they are going to have to sprint 5000 meters next Saturday in order to make it out to the state meet,” Neil Brague said. “The state of Ohio is so deep with fast runners that to ensure your spot at National Trail Raceway, you have to start this race fast, get faster in the middle, and finish without a drop left in the tank. That being said, do our times compare to past qualifying times to the state meet….absolutely.”

Fort Frye will be featuring two runners in the regional — Justin Anderson and Jevin Ward. Each qualified outright at the D3 Eastern District in Cambridge.

Anderson, a junior and a 2016 state qualifier, finished third overall in 16:59.7. He is ranked eighth in the region.

“Justin has been battling an injury about the last half of the season,” said FFHS coach Jason Lipot. “He’s nowhere near a 100 percent.

“Justin is a tough kid trying to fight trough it. He’ll need to run better to move on to state.”

Ward, a sophomore, was clocked in 17:23.5 at district. He is ranked 53rd in the region.

“I gotta give all the kudos to Jevin Ward,” Lipot said. “I knew he had it in him to qualify but I wasn’t expecting a seventh place (overall) finish. Quite a pleasant surprise from Jevin. He has been running well of late and finishing races strong. With a mile to go he was sitting 11, to pass that many kids at the the end was impressive. He stepped up for the team.”

“I’m excited to see what he (Ward) does next week at regions,” the Fort coach added. “He capable of running in the 16s Only the top 20 individuals move on and last year the time of 17:22 was enough to do it.”

Team-wise at district, the Cadets placed fifth with a score of 115.

“We headed in to districts not at full strength,” Lipot said. “Everyone had to run well above average to make it and they did.

“We had the score to make regionals but one of our runners got a DQ (disqualification) for blocking. He leaned a little too early and broke another runner’s stride a yard before the finish line. It’s unfortunate a judgement call like this kept us from moving on. That setback pushed us from third to fifth.

“Overall, though, I’m pleased with the effort the team put in all season. It was great to see the kids rise and accept the challenge when faced with adversity. Opportunities like this can bring out the best of you, and Jevin Ward proved it and took advantage of it.”

Both the Caldwell boys and girls teams will be competing in the D3 regional meet.

To qualify, the Redskin boys finished runners-up Garaway in Cambridge. Mason Ackley paced the Skins with a fourth-place overall finish in 17:09.0. Levi Pemberton was fifth in 17:12.8. Next were Marshal Niswonger (17:34.5); Jacob Niswonger (18;18.2); Lucas King (18:55.2); Andrew Sheanshang (19:13.5); and Collin Wiley (20:25.1).

The CHS girls included Chloe McAuley (second, 20:18.7); Lauren Fry (seventh, 21:17.5); Johnna Border (22:05.3); Caileigh Moore (22:51.7), Morgan Parsons (22:55.5); Hope Saling 22:55.7); and Hannah Pfeffer (23:20.3).

“If my boys run the way they did,at OVAC, we have a chance to advance to the big show,” said Caldwell coach Dugan Hill. “The girls need to bring that pack of three-seven closer together to have a chance. The top 5 teams and top 20 individuals will advance to state meet.”

The Belpre boys’ team also advanced to the D3 regional with a fourth-place finish at the SE Rio Grande district. Freshman Eli Fullerton led the way with fourth overall placement in 16:51.37. Joining him will be Davis Leach (18:27.43), Kellar Windland (18:43.63), Jackson Plummer (19:23.07), Kiser Windland (19:53.74), Cy Varner (19:58.74), and Hunter Gilbert (20:17.83).

Freshman Kelly Erb paced the Golden Eagle girls with a clocking of 22:39.29, good for 26th place.