West Liberty-Salem girls run away from defending state champ Minster

Like they have so many times in recent seasons the West Liberty-Salem girls high school cross country team stood together, talking and laughing, waiting to pick up their trophy. The Cedarville Indians, unsure where to go, walked over to ask for help.

That’s when West Liberty-Salem coach Ann Vogel cheered, “OHC! OHC!”

OHC? Oh, yes.

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The Ohio Heritage Conference came up golden at the Bob Schul Invitational this past Saturday at Milton-Union High School. The meet, held in honor of the only U.S. runner to win the 5,000-meter gold medal in the Olympic Games (Tokyo 1964), was a banner day for the conference.

West Liberty-Salem’s girls won the Division III small-school race with 30 points, beating three-time defending state champion Minster’s 40. Sophomore Megan Adams (2nd, 18:42.7), senior Grace Adams (3rd, 19:29.6), junior Katelyn Stapleton (7th, 20:04.5), junior Madison Bahan (8th, 20:10.6) and senior Lydia Moell (20th, 21:19.2) scored for the Big Orange.

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“We just focused on we before me,” Vogel said. “If we think about our teammates before ourselves we’ll have a good day. We proved that. The closeness these girls have, I think that’s a big part of their success.

“We have lots of room for improvement. It wasn’t our best race ever, but it was a good way to start the season to beat the defending state champs. But if we ran again Minster could beat us. They’ve been the best team in the state for years for a reason. We’re happy with (the win) and kept our focus on the team. Just keep working from here on out.”

Catholic Central senior Addie Engel won the small-school race (17:49.0). Sister Bridget Engel was fourth (19:46.1). Cedarville junior Ellyn Coe (20:57.6) led the Indians to fourth.

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Cedarville junior Ethan Wallis won the small-school boys meet (16:29.8) and junior teammate Trent Koning was fourth (16:50.7).

“The first mile I ran with the pack in the front,” Wallis said. “By the second mile there were a few guys trying to pass me. Each time I picked up the pace a little bit to try and get in their head. At one point I was like, ‘OK, I’m going a little fast and I’m going to die.’ I just tried to keep what I had.”

Cedarville, ranked No. 9 in the state, qualified for the state meet for the first time in program history last season. The 1-2 punch could help them return.

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“It’s really good for both of us. Usually he’s out in front and I have to try can catch up to him” Koning said. “I have a breathing problem that usually hinders my ability to run faster. Last half mile race like an 800. It’s awesome having him in practice to go out and catch, to simulate that.”

West Liberty-Salem’s boys also won the small-school meet, beating Cedarville 58-81. Senior Noah Smith (6th, 16:53.2), sophomore Dylan Lauck (7th, 16:53.6), sophomore Tate Yoder (8th, 16:56.2), junior Josh Spinner (9th, 17:16.3) and senior Gavin Harrison (29th, 17:49.2) were the top five runners.

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Greenon freshman Tru Buddenberg had an impressive debut by finishing seventh (19:48.3).

• Shawnee sophomore Audrey DeSantis (19:11.3) finished second in the girls’ big school division at the Schul. Braves’ senior Alex Dyar finished third (16:16.9) in the boys race.

Northwestern senior Drew Blazer logged a top-10 finish with sixth (16:32.9) at the Schul.

Tecumseh senior Kylee Mastin (19:33.3) finished third at the Northmont Invitational.

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Upcoming meets: Among meets to watch this Saturday include the Treaty City Invitational at the Greenville City Park, the Covington FOE 3998 Invitational on the Fraternal of Eagles picnic grounds, the Miamisburg Invitational and the Lebanon Running Warrior Invitational.

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