Shawnee’s goal at state cross-country: Have fun

Now that the tough part — qualifying for today’s state meet — is over for the Shawnee cross country team, Braves coach Brian DeSantis offered some advice.

Have fun.

That’s what DeSantis will tell his runners at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, site of the 3.1-mile cross country championship. Shawnee qualified its boys and girls teams in Division II. It’s the second straight year (and second overall) the boys and girls have competed at state together.

“I’m super proud of the work ethic by the boys and the girls team, and the coaching staff,” DeSantis said. “To get two teams to state is a great accomplishment. Now the pressure is off. Just go to state, relax and run free.”

Northwestern junior Justin Prack also competes in the D-II boys meet. In D-III, West Liberty-Salem senior Joey Adams and sophomore Reghan Bieleski compete for the Big Orange.

“My goal is just to be up there with the guys competing for a title,” Adams said. “I’m confident I can be in the mix. I’m confident in God that He’s going to give me the strength.”

The course winds through the National Trail Raceway, starting through an open field and turning down the track’s drag strip. It continues into woods before a final sprint down the strip in front of the spectators’ bleachers.

“It’s really open and it doesn’t repeat itself too often because there’s so much area to run,” Adams said. “It’s pretty flat other than one hill, a slight incline with about three-quarters of a mile to go. I think we can make a competitive race out of it.”

Shawnee’s boys, ranked No. 6 in the state poll, are led by seniors Seth D’Allessandris, Devin Dunn and Logan Griffith. Juniors Josh Hayes and Joel Rodgers and freshmen Will Geist and Ethan Griffith are also among the top seven.

Shawnee’s girls, ranked No. 7 in the state, are led by juniors Morgan Huggins, Rebecca Penrose and Sophie Smith. Sophomores Miah DeSantis, Grace Holmes, Kelsey Lloyd and Emma Schmid complete the state roster.

“We won’t put any pressure on them and we’ll treat it like any other race. Have fun,” DeSantis said.

The meet starts at 11 a.m. with the Division III girls. The D-II girls (11:45 a.m.) and D-I girls (12:30 p.m.) follow. The D-III boys run at 1:30 and are followed by the D-II boys (2:15) and D-I boys (3).