Cross Country: Top-ranked Cedarville wins second striaght district title

Cedarville cross country team breaks from starting box during Saturday's Division III district meet. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Cedarville cross country team breaks from starting box during Saturday's Division III district meet. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

CEDARVILLE – In order to punish the Elvin R. King cross country course on Saturday, the Cedarville Indians boys cross country team pounded the pavement throughout their village during the summer.

Daily late-night training sessions during the summer were routine for the Indians. The results of those practices have been anything but ordinary.

Cedarville, the No. 1 ranked team in the Division III state poll, won the D-III district championship on the course a mile outside their hometown. It’s a drastic turnaround from where the program was five seasons ago. In 2016 the Indians finished 18th at the district meet with 514 points. On Saturday the Indians claimed their second straight title with 27 points.

“I would have never thought I’d be at this point,” said senior Payton Herron, who also helped the team finish third at district in both 2017-18. “It’s crazy to think we’ve gone from a team that was more or less mediocre to a team going for a state title. It’s pretty cool.”

Cedarville senior Ethan Wallis, who separated from the field in the first mile and ran alone for most of the 3.1-mile race, won his second straight district title in a D-III course-record 15:51. That topped the 16:06.48 set by Greenon’s Max Pettit in 2017.

Wallis was the inspiration for those 11 p.m. and even midnight summer training sessions, when the temperatures were cooler or they had to wait for teammates to get off work.

“We would do that every night over the summer. That’s how we trained,” Wallis said. “I’m really impressed with how they’re doing this year. I’m really proud of the guys.”

Cedarville beat runner-up Fort Loramie 27-46 on Saturday as the Indians placed their top five runners inside the top 10.

Joining Wallis was Herron (fourth, 17:05.4), sophomore Caleb Sultan (sixth, 17:22.2), junior Drew Mason (seventh, 17:26.9) and senior Trent Koning (ninth, 17:39). Freshman Isaac Wallis (18th, 18:03.5) and sophomore Ben Ormsbee (19th, 18:12.6) rounded out the top seven.

Next up for Cedarville is the regional championships Saturday in Troy.

“Being number one we’ve got a target on our back,” Herron said. “We have to keep pushing and try to be the best we can at every meet.”

To comply with COVID-19 guidelines on the Elvin R. King’s cross country course, each boys and girls division was split into two races – Race A and Race B – to reduce the number of runners competing at the same time.

In the D-II boys meet, junior Dylan Lauck won the Race A district title in 15:41.9 for a 12.5-second victory. The Big Orange also won the district title behind junior Tate Yoder (third), sophomore Owen Harrison (12th), senior Josh Spinner (14th), senior Hayden Kennedy (16th), sophomore Michael Jones (17th) and junior Ayden Estep (20th).

Shawnee finished fourth in Race A to qualify for regional. The Braves were led by junior Jordyn Dillavou’s sixth-place finish. He was followed by senior Noah Schafer (22nd), senior Dylan O’Brien (28th), sophomore Xavier Hines (34th), freshman Jonah Kiess (36th), sophomore Lansen McCoy (42nd) and freshman Aiden Kocher (86th).

In D-II girls, Shawnee junior Audrey DeSantis won the Race A title in 18:25.8. The next runner crossed the line 33.2 seconds later.

“I was hoping people would stay with me longer than a mile,” DeSantis said. “It is kind of nerve-racking because I don’t know how far people are behind me.”

Northwestern – paced by junior Madison Little’s ninth-place finish – took third to qualify. Joining her at regional are sophomore Kayley Yontz (21st), freshman Alyssa Christian (28th), junior Natalie Boehmer (31st), junior Madison Lyday (37th), freshman Kensie Hayes (41st) and sophomore Anna Prack (49th).

In D-III girls, West-Liberty Salem had the top four runners in Race A and scored 25 points for a 25-point victory over runner-up Versailles.

Freshman Addison McAuley won the district title in 18:49.5 and was joined by freshman Ashley Yoder (second), senior Katelyn Stapleton (third), senior Madison Bahan (fourth), freshman Taylor Kennedy (17th), freshman Claire Longshore (18th) and junior Mahdilyn Weaver (37th).

Cedarville’s girls finished third in Race B, behind senior Ellyn Coe’s third-place finish, to advance as a team along with sophomore Aleena Cook (17th), senior Abigail Shephard (22nd), sophomore Rachel Tarwater (25th), sophomore Anna Mark (26th), junior Elizabeth Dunham (29th) and senior Abi Tarwater (34th).

Yellow Springs sophomore Cheyan Sundell-Turner, Triad freshman Shalyn Smiles and Emmanuel Christian Academy freshman Jasmine Bell qualified as an individuals.

In D-III boys, Emmanuel Christian Academy junior Jacob Kittles and Mechanicsburg freshman Will Negley both advanced.

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