The Mason Invitational offers unique obstacles than most high school cross country courses. There’s a series of hay bales to hurdle. There are two creek crossings, though one had to be closed and runners rerouted with Saturday’s persistent rain. And then there’s Mulch Hill, a steep incline that can bring runners to their knees. Literally.
Add in wet, slippery and muddy conditions – including a creek crossing that rose to most competitors’ knees and saw more than a few get dunked – and the 3.1-mile course can test any runner’s perseverance.
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On Saturday it left Greenon junior Calvin Wise in tears.
Wise won the Mason Invitational Section II small-school race in 17 minutes, 5.9 seconds for his first cross country victory. Ever. The only thing catching up to Wise on Saturday was the moment.
“After about a minute I started crying I was just so happy,” Wise said. “I don’t know what I was feeling when I first crossed it. After a minute I started crying.”
Wise paced Greenon’s team victory with 106 points, narrowly beating out Hamilton Badin’s 127.
Gavin Patrick finished seventh for the Knights in 17:23.9. Jackson Pettit was 15th (17:50), Sean Glaze 20th (18:04.2) and Jaden Journell 63rd (19:26.4).
Teammates Cason Estes (135th), Phillip Welsheimer (163rd) and Luke Glaze (172nd) also competed.
“(Greenon coach Eric Brickson) came up and slapped me on the back and said great job. I think he was even more excited we won as a team,” Wise said. “I’m just happy I won, and the fact we won is really good. That should move us up in the rankings.”
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Greenon’s boys entered the week ranked No. 19 in the Division III state rankings. The Knights won the Covington Invitational on Sept. 1 and finished second in the Division II-III small school race at the Bob Schul Invitational on Aug. 25.
“We’ve all been training together, especially our top three,” Wise said. “They push me in practice and in meets. Me and Gavin have been back and forth this year. I think they were pretty happy with what they did.”
As for Wise, he finished third overall at Covington and eighth at the Bob Schul. His time Saturday was just off his personal record of 17:01.
“I just visualized the weather being bad. I kind of embraced it,” Wise said. “I was excited because I wanted bad weather because other kids might be hard on themselves and not expect to PR. I went in with the mindset I could PR. I think that helped. … Being the third meet and in this kind of weather on this course, being a few seconds off is really good.”
Northwestern also competed at the Mason Invitational. Drew Blazer finished third in the boys race in 17:13.1 to lead the Warriors, who placed ninth.
The girls team had a pair of top-15 finishers with Kassidy Carpenter coming in fifth overall (20:46.7) and Jenna Cleland crossing in 15th (21:56.6). The team finished eighth our of 23 teams.
Big Orange third at Tiffin: The West Liberty-Salem girls had a strong showing at the Tiffin Carnival on Saturday, finishing third out of 54 teams in the Division III varsity race with 168 points.
Defending state champion Minster won with 53 points by putting its first five runners in the top 16 overall. Fort Loramie was second with 164 points.
Those three programs are also expected to be the top three teams at D-III Southwest regional championships in Troy later this season.
Megan Adams led West Liberty-Salem by finishing seventh overall in 19:25.3. Grace Adams (32nd; 20:43.2), Madison Bahan (33rd; 20:45.7), Lydia Moell (43rd; 21:01.4) and Mandy Weaver (57th; 21:30) also finished among the top five.
The Big Orange boys finished third out of 35 teams in the D-III race. West Liberty-Salem scored 190 points. Mount Gilead won with 96 and Columbus Grove had 175 for second.
Dylan Lauck led the team with his fifth-place finish in 16:321.8. Noah Smith (14th; 16:53.1), Cade Clerico (41st; 17:32.3), Tate Yoder (44th; 178:36.7) and Jordan Lewis (86th; 18:14.2) also scored for the team.