Max Pettit of Greenon ran alone most of the way as he lowered his previous best time of 16:16 by eight seconds in claiming a district cross-country title Saturday. GREG BILLING / CONTRIBUTED

Greenon’s Pettit, WL-S’s Stapleton claim district titles

Pettit ripped off a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 8 seconds to win the D-III district title at Cedarville University. Pettit held off the top two runners from a Fort Loramie team that’s ranked No. 3 in the state, beating them by by 13 and 15 seconds.

“I knew the top 32 runners advanced,” Pettit said of his game plan.

Pettit went to the lead after the first 800 meters of the 5,000-meter race. He ran alone most of the way as he lowered his previous best time of 16:16 by eight seconds. Pettit ran in D-II last season and finished fifth at the district meet.

“I was really surprised no one went with me the first mile,” Pettit said. “I actually never looked behind me. I just kept going. I didn’t want to see them.”

He will see them again Saturday, though, at the regional championships on the Troy levee.

“I was just happy to beat my PR because this course is usually slow. I couldn’t be happier,” said Pettit, adding his next goal is the school record of 15:39.

Greenon’s boys also qualified for the regional meet by finishing fourth. Cedarville’s boys finished third to qualify as Ethan Wallis finished sixth overall and Trent Koning eighth.

In the D-III girls meet, West Liberty-Salem freshman Katelyn Stapleton won the individual championship and paced the Tigers to the district team title, too. Stapleton stayed on Catholic Central Addie Engel’s heels much of the race before making her move in the final mile.

“My kick is usually how I try to beat people and that’s what I did,” said Stapleton, whose time of 18:48.6 was 23 seconds faster than Engel’s.

Stapleton also beat Engel, a sophomore, by 19 seconds at the Ohio Heritage Conference championships last weekend.

“Today was kind of her coming out party,” WL-S coach Ann Vogel said. “She was very patient with her race and it was a sign of things to come with her.”

The Tigers practice at Ohio Caverns so hill work is nothing new to Vogel’s runners. The course at Cedarville has steady inclines and that played to Stapleton and the Tigers’ advantage.

“It’s like, this is my thing,” Stapleton said of the hills. “So that’s where I got her. At first I was like, ‘Oh no. What if she comes up on me? But after awhile I was more confident.”

West Liberty-Salem’s Grace Adams was fourth overall and teammate Reghan Bieleski was fifth. Maddie Bahan came in 18th and Lydia Moell was 38th to complete the team scoring. The Tigers scored 56 points to top Fort Loramie’s 65 in a tough D-III field. WL-S entered No. 4 in the state poll. Fort Loramie (No. 7), Russia (11), Versailles (14) and Covington (16) also ran at Cedarville.

“We talked all week that Fort Loramie was going to give us a run for the title,” Vogel said. “We just had to take care of business. If you find a moment to be courageous, do it. This was the best team race we’ve had all season.”

Triad’s Holly Cole rounded out the top 10 to advance.

In D-II, the Shawnee Braves boys and girls finished as runners-up with fourth-place finishes. The top two teams won district titles and third and fourth were runners-up.

Olivia Warax finished third overall and Grace Holmes ninth to pace the Braves’ girls. Will Geist was fourth and Keith Kaiser was eighth for the boys.

Northwestern’s Kassidy Carpenter also logged a top-10 finish, coming in seventh in the D-II race to also advance.

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