Local harriers go for All-Ohio status Saturday

Courtesy photo Belpre’s Eli Fullerton crosses the finish line at a Division III regional cross country meet last Saturday in Pickerington. Fullerton finished 18th to qualify for this Saturday’s state meet.

By Ron Johnston

The Marietta Times


At the start of the Ohio cross country season in August, just about every runner in the state either dreamed or had a goal of competing on the 5K race course on the first Saturday of November.

In Washington Country, Warren High’s Trent Sayre and Belpre’s Eli Fullerton each can say “mission accomplished.” So can Caldwell High’s Levi Pemberton of Noble County.

This Saturday, the trio will be toeing the starting lines at the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

Sayre will be running at 2:15 p.m. in the DII boys run, while Fullerton and Pemberton will lead off at 1:30 p.m. in the DIII boys run.

Sayre, a junior, qualified for state for the second straight year with a ninth-place finish in a clocking of 16 minutes, 43.06 seconds at the Pickerington North D2 regional last Saturday.

Last year at state, the Warren standout finished 89th overall in DII in 16:59.6. He did not place.

“I think Trent learned a valuable lesson last year, the hard way,” said Warriors cross country coach Neil Brague. “He cut someone off right after the start, got pushed down, and was trampled by a lot of guys.

“To be honest, he deserved it and will not be making that mistake again any time soon.”

Brague believes that his protÈgÈ “has a very good shot to earn his All-Ohio status” this weekend.

“He is further along this year, after the regional, than he was last year,” the coach added. “Plus, we came out of a pretty tough regional if not the toughest.

“That being the case, I expect him to be mentally prepared for Saturday. The hay is in the barn, so to speak. I don’t have have any magic dust to sprinkle on him or some special workout to do. It’s going to be a pure guts race on Saturday.”

Pemberton is also a cross country state tournament veteran. Last year, he finished 48th overall in a time of 16:47.0.

At the Pickerington D3 regional last Saturday, the talented Redskin runner qualified with a 20th place finish in 16:52.92.

“We want Levi to be in the top 25,” said Caldwell XC boss Dugan Hill. “He was there last year and faded at the end, because he didn’t run very smart early.

“So, we are talking about going out but still having enough energy to finish. He really hasn’t ran that well the last three weeks. He really has to just run what he is capable of running. Last year’s experience should help.”

Fullerton has been turning a lot of heads in Belpre this season. Only a freshman, he finished fourth overall in the Rio Grande district in 16:51.37.

Last weekend in the Pickerington D3 regional, Fullerton placed 18th overall in a clocking of 16:52.44 to qualify for state.

NOTES: Unfortunately, two Washington County runners, who competed at state last year (but did not place), were not able to advance to Hebron this weekend.

Marietta High senior Collin Doughty closed out a fine XC career with a 38th place finish in 16:51.35 in the Pickerington D1 regional. Last year, when he qualified for state, the Tiger runner competed in D2.

Fort Frye junior Justin Anderson finished in 32nd place in 17:26.51 in the Pickerington D3 regional. More is expected to be heard from the Cadet runner when he’s a senior.