Trying to figure out who is the best team is nearly impossible without running any races, but OHRunners has tried to do just that (solely based on last year's results and returning runners). Today we take a stab at the Preseason Division 2 Top 10 Boys Teams, Preseason Regional Top 5 Teams and the Top 10 Returning Times.
Tipp placed fifth at last years State Meet and only loses their seventh runner to graduation. This year could really come down to who stay's healtheir Tipp Woodridge, but Tipp has the early lead on Woodridge due to returning six runners with State Meet experience. Senior Jason Salyer will look to go sub 16:00 while Senior Jason Bruns could go low-to-sub 16:00 as well. Tipp has four kids that have already broken 17:00 while their other two returners are both sub 18:00 runners. If this isn't Tipp's year, it will take them a while to have another team as good as this one.
8th, 3rd, 1st, 1st. This is how Woodridge has finished the past four years at the state meet, and that is pretty impressive. Even with losing their first, third and sixth runner from the state meet last year, Woodridge will be able to hold their own on the course this year. Seniors Joe White and Michael Rhodes both ran sub 16:30 this year, and sophomore Jimmy Charles was only three second off from joining that group. This is going to be one talented team as long as they can find some athletes to run in their 5-7 spots, which Woodridge will easily be able to do.
Finished eighth at the state meet last year, but returns all but their third, fifth and seventh place runners from last years team. Carroll is a team that carries some depth and should be able to replace these runners with relative ease. If Carroll's returning cast can close the gap between them and lead runner, senior, Andrew Trick, Carroll should make a strong push to be in the mix come November. Sophomore Chad Kiggins and senior Anthony Crossley will add a solid 2-3 punch to go along with Trick.
After finishing eleventh last year at Scioto Downs, Bay could be an interesting team that could disrupt the top teams this year. Lead by Super Sophomore Mike Brajdic (last year's top freshman at the state meet), Bay is a young team that really has a lot of upside. Junior Brian Zeuch has run sub 17:00 and will look to get down into the low 16:00's this year. The rest of the returning cast for Bay have all run sub 18:00. Brajdic could look to be one of the top three finishers this year at Scioto Downs as seven of the ten athletes that finished before him last year have graduated.
While Mantua Crestwood loses their second and sixth place runners from their sixth place state team last year, they will look to finish a little better this year come November. This will be Crestwood's best shot at finishing high at the State Meet, as they will have four seniors running this year that should be in their top five. Junior Brandan McGee is the top returner for Crestwood, and could be one of the top 16 individual finishers at Scioto Downs.
6. St. Clairsville
St. Clairsville finished fifth in a region last year that produced two of the top four teams and three of the top nine teams at the State Meet. St. Clairsville only loses their seventh runner from last year and returns four seniors and two juniors that are itching to run at Scioto Downs. St. Clairsville strength is in the front of their pack, as their top three runners, junior Alex Thornburg and seniors Jonathan Ebbert and Nathan Cencula all cross the line within about fifteen seconds of each other. Their is rumor that St. Clairsville lost two of their returning runners, which could hurt their chances of placing as high as they would like in the regional race. Even if the rumor is true, look for them to make some noise at the regional level and possibly at the state meet.
Defiance only loses their fifth runner from last years tenth place state team. Defiance will try to impove on last years finish, but will have to make it out of a tough regional race at Tiffin first. Senior Zac Wiles and junior Trevin Flickinger will provide the 1-2 punch for Defiance as they looke to lead the team back to Scioto Downs and hopefully to a top five finish at the State Meet. Wiles has the fifth fastest returning time in DII and the second fastest returning State Meet time, which will bode well for Defiance to finish high at the state meet.
Mogadore Field will look to better their twelfth place finish from the State Meet last year in which they only had sixth athletes finished the race. Field will have a veteran team with experience as all runners from the post season will return this year. Seniors Ben Mars and Matt Jordan will be counted upon heavily to push the pace of the field pack and to finish together as Field does not really have a front runner on their team.
After finishing second at the Tiffin Region last year, Willard will look to improve on their sub-par performance at last years state meet. Willard is a veteran team as their top five returners are all seniors. Seniors Dirk Kostoff, Alexander Elmlinger and Luis Velasco will look to go sub 16:30 or lower to help bolster Willard's post season finishes.
Circleville returns all seven runners from last years seventh place regional team. Junior Brad Liston will look to lead the team and go low to sub 16:00, while the burden of the team advancing in the post season will be placed on two groups. Seniors Ben Ankrom and Matt Wingett will need to run and drop time together, while the sophomores will have to up their game to help Circleville be competitive in the post season.
(Assuming all teams that can choose their Region go to the same Region as last year)
Youngstown Region 5
Only lose two from their fifth place regional team, this team will have a shot to make it out of their regional due to their strong senior class.
5. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy
CVCA doesn't lose anyone from their 10th place regional team. This group will be lead by Senior Kyle Sullinger and a big pack of juniors ready to make their mark.
Tiffin Region 6
Edison returns everyone from their seventh place regional team last year. Sub 17:00 seniors Weston Strayer and Timothy Majoy will try to lead this senior laden team to Scioto Downs this year.
5. Elyria Catholic
The ninth place regional team last year returns six of seven runners. If the rest of the team can close the gap between themselves and junior Marty Coolidge, Elyria Catholic could be a team to contend with.
Pickerington Region 7
1. St. Clairsville
Sixth place at the regional race last year, Bexley returns a strong core of seniors that will make a great push to get to the State Meet this year. Senior Caleb Muller will be the lead runner for the Lions this year.
While Unioto loses three state meet runners from last years team they will have a good shot at a return trip to the state meet this year. Any team that has made the State Meet five years in a row, like Unioto, is a threat to return.
Fourth place at Scioto Downs last year, Claymont may need some help to make a return trip this year. Claymont loses three seniors to graduation, but will be lead by a talented junior class that includes Cory Dotts.
Troy Region 8
3. Kenton Ridge
Just missing out on state trip last year and losing two of their top seven, including their lead runner, Kenton Ridge still looks like they can challenge for State Meet berth. Senior Chris Lykins looks to lead this team that is made up of mainly upper-classmen.
4. Springfield Northwestern
The seventh place state team from last year will be looking for a return trip to Scioto Downs with seniors Ben Jones and Eric Harshbarger leading the way.
5. St. Francis DeSales-Columbus
After finishing seventh at the regional last year, and only losing their lead runner, St. Francis DeSales will look to crack the top four and punch their ticket to Scioto Downs. This is a now-or-never situation for the boys from Columbus as this will be a team that may have only one or two non-seniors running late in the season.
Top 10 Returning Times
|1.||15:47.56||Jarrod Eick||OH||Marlington||2009||2007-11-03||OHSAA State Cross Country Championships|
|2.||15:51.00||Andrew Trick||OH||Carroll||2009||2007-10-13||Greater Catholic League Championship|
|3.||16:7.63||Jason Salyer||OH||Tippecanoe||2009||2007-10-13||Central Buckeye Conference Cross Country Championships|
|4.||16:7.93||Dustin Hines||OH||Shawnee-Springfield||2009||2007-10-13||Central Buckeye Conference Cross Country Championships|
|5.||16:8.15||Zac Wiles||OH||Defiance||2009||2007-11-03||OHSAA State Cross Country Championships|
|6.||16:8.26||Marty Coolidge||OH||Elyria Catholic||2010||2007-11-03||OHSAA State Cross Country Championships|
|7.||16:8.80||Michael Brajdic||OH||Bay||2011||2007-11-03||OHSAA State Cross Country Championships|
|8.||16:9.51||Dan Jackisch||OH||Perry||2009||2007-11-03||OHSAA State Cross Country Championships|
|9.||16:10.64||Kyle Sullinger||OH||Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy||2009||2007-11-03||OHSAA State Cross Country Championships|
|10.||16:14.33||Ben Jones||OH||Northwestern-Springfield||2009||2007-09-15||Cedarville University Invitational|