As far as photo finishes go, it doesn’t get much better than the one following the Division III district cross country championship Saturday at Cedarville University.
Soon after Catholic Central junior Addie Engel claimed the D-III championship by 13.41 seconds over West Liberty-Salem freshman Megan Adams, both the Irish and the Tigers teams stood in front of their parents – arms around each others shoulders – for a group photo.
After battling a steady 20 mph wind and gusts hitting 30 mph on the 3.1-mile course, Catholic Central and West Liberty-Salem were both all smiles after advancing to next week’s regional championships in Troy.
“I really like competing with them,” Engel said following her victory in 19 minutes, 6.58 seconds. “They’re all really good competition and super nice, too. It’s fun running with them.”
West Liberty-Salem placed five runners among the top nine overall to win the D-III district title with 28 points. Sophomore Katelyn Stapleton (third), junior Grace Adams (sixth), sophomore Madison Bahan (eighth) and junior Lydia Moell (ninth) joined Adams among the top 10.
Catholic Central’s girls finished fifth as a team to advance to regionals. Irish junior Bridget Engel finished fifth to crack the top 10, also.
“I’m really excited,” Addie Engel said. “Our runners are excited to move on and it should be a fun time.”
In the D-II boys meet, Shawnee senior Will Geist (sixth in 16:41.6), junior Alex Dyar (eighth, 16:42.87) and senior Keith Kaiser (11th, 16.49.8) had solid runs to pace the boys to the district title. The final kick came from freshman Jordyn Dillavou (20th, 17:15.26) and senior Ethan Griffith (21st, 17:15.29). That duo started faster than in past races to put a little scare in coach Brian DeSantis, but they but held the pace and finished strong.
“I told them coming in I felt like they were the class of the field,” Shawnee coach Brian DeSantis said. “We were ready to break loose at some point. … That’s the thing I’m trying to sell them on. Every year at this point we start to come on stronger if you truly believe in yourselves and the team. They delivered.”
Shawnee entered the meet ranked No. 10 in the state poll. They were the No. 2 team in the district behind Tippecanoe, which finished third on Saturday.
“It’s awesome. Coach told us we would have to fight for it and we did,” Geist said. “We did what we wanted to accomplish. … Everyone up front has put in a great summer and we work well together. A family is what we really are. We love each other and want to fight for each other.”
Northwestern junior Drew Blazer finished second overall with a personal record 16:28.57 to advance. He missed last year’s postseason with an injury.
“The wind, with this course being so open, slows things down. I went with a more tactical race and it worked today,” Blazer said. “I just wanted to run smart and get out. I didn’t want to take too many chances and mess up or something.”
In D-II girls, Shawnee’s team also qualified for regional by finishing third. Northwestern junior Kassidy Carpenter finished fourth to advance.
In D-III boys, West Liberty-Salem junior Noah Smith finished fourth to lead the Tigers to the district championship. Cedarville finished third and Greenon fourth to advance. Individual qualifiers included Northeastern senior Payton Chatfield and Mechanicsburg sophomore Josh Spinner.
In D-I boys, Tecumseh seniors Garrett Gemmaka and Ethan Adams qualified for regional.
In D-I girls, Tecumseh junior Kylee Mastin advanced.