Once he put himself among the top 16 runners at the high school state cross country championships, West Liberty-Salem senior Joey Adams wasn’t giving it up.
Adams battled down the final stretch of the Division III championship Saturday at National Trail Raceway to earn All-Ohio honors in his final race.
He joined Shawnee senior Logan Griffith, who finished seventh in the D-II meet, as the area’s podium finishers. The top 16 in each division earn All-Ohio.
“I’ll take the podium. It’s pretty surreal going through four years of high school and winding up on the podium,” Adams said. “It’s a cool feeling to look out at the crowd and know that hard work pays off.”
Griffith paced the Shawnee Braves to eighth place in the team standings. It was the sixth straight state appearance for the boys team that also saw senior Devin Dunn finish 74th and senior Seth D’Allesandris finish 98th.
“It’s been a great year. I just can’t believe its over,” Griffith said. “I was trying not to get emotional and give it all I’ve got. It’s my last race.”
Northwestern junior Justin Prack competed in the D-II meet as an individual and finished 69th.
In the girls meet, Shawnee — making its second straight appearance — finished 10th.
Shawnee junior Sophie Smith finished 18th for the Braves. Junior Morgan Huggins was 31st and sophomore Gracie Holmes 57th. The Braves like their chances to return next season with no seniors on the roster.
West Liberty-Salem sophomore Reghan Bieleski finished 45th in her second appearance.
“It feels great being with all the other girls and having the opportunity,” she said. “I’d like to make it the next two years and keep improving.”
The runners competed under a sunny sky and cool temperatures on the 3.1-mile (5,000-meter) course. Despite the good weather the course was still soft from Friday’s rain. That, and trying to keep up with the lead pack, took a little extra out of their legs.
“It’s easy to let the negative thoughts creep in there,” Adams said of feeling his legs get heavy during the race. “I think this sport is mostly mental. If you hit a wall like that and can push through it mentally, that’s 90 percent of the battle. As soon as I got into 15th place I wasn’t giving that up. I was just laying it all out there at that point.”
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