Jonathan Alder’s Gavin Frick, right, is pictured finishing the 5K state meet for Division II Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers finished 12th in the 20-team race at National Trails Raceway in Hebron.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
Jonathan Alder boys cross-country coach Justin Creps knew his young team would be facing older, more experienced squads during Saturday’s Division II state meet at National Trails Raceway in Hebron.
What he could not have known prior to the race was the fact the Pioneers would exceed even his own expectations.
They placed 12th in the 20-team chase, higher than what their coach anticipated.
“That’s a couple of places higher than I originally thought,” said Creps after his Pioneers had completed the 5K course on a sunny and warmer-than-normal afternoon for the first weekend of November.
Lexington, 2016’s runner-up in the state meet, won this year’s title with 97 points.
Thornville Sheridan was right on Lexington’s heels with a runner-up total of 101.
Third-place honors went to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary with 144, followed by Peninsula Woodridge (2016’s state champions)-158, Rocky River-160, Shelby-164, Bay Village Bay-182, Heath-201, Buckeye Valley-249, Chillicothe Unioto-284, Chardon Notre Dame Cathedral Latin-290, Jonathan Alder-322, Van Vert-329, Mentor Lake Catholic-354, Cincinnati Madeira-362, Brookville-390, Eaton-396, Columbus Bishop Watterson-414, Warsaw River View-424 and Springfield Shawnee-429.
Buckeye Valley’s Zach Kreft defended his Division II individual championship as he toured the course with a time of 15:40. He easily outdistanced the runner-up, Ryan Johnston of Lexington, by 21 seconds.
The Pioneers were led by sophomore Luke Malone, who was 48th in 16:53.3. Classmate Gavin Frick was 79th in 17:06.9 and Jase Headings (the team’s lone senior) was 84th in 17:09.9.
Sophomores Michael Gray and Zach Hicks were 116th and 154th respectively with times of 17:33.5 and 18:16.5.
A pair of freshmen – Brady Corbitt and Caleb Freyof – were 163rd and 173rd respectively out of the 200-plus total runners with clockings of 18:35.2 and 19:21.6.
All of the Pioneers felt they ran decent races, given the conditions.
“The race went pretty well and I thought my time would be in the low 17’s,” said Headings. “The course had some pretty tough terrain.”
“It was super muddy in a lot of spots (after recent rains),” said Gray. “I’m still happy with my race.”
“The first mile was exhausting because everybody got out so fast,” said Hicks. “I was at about 5:20 for the first mile and was at 11:30 after the second.
“In cross-country, the time doesn’t matter… it’s the place.”
“The consensus is that it was a pretty muddy course,” said Malone. “I’m just proud of everyone for the race we ran.”
“We knew we would be facing very stiff competition,” said Creps. “We knew there were teams above us, since we are so young.
“However these guys were not intimidated by all of the older runners.”
The Pioneers will be returning a state meet-experienced squad next fall, since they lose only Headings to graduation.
Creps said there will be further talent and depth arriving from an Alder middle school team that recently won a state championship on that level.
Creps said the program has “an exciting future.”
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