OHRunners Preseason Division 3 Boys

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 3 Top 10 Boys Teams, Preseason Regional Top 6 Teams and the Top 10 Returning Times.

1. McDonald

This wasn’t close and if I had money to bet, this has to be a close to a sure thing as I can see for the future. Let me explain why the Blue Devils are the favorite to win the State meet in the preseason. Over the last decade the follow results occurred:

1999 State Champion (loses runners 2,3,4)
2000 2nd in State to freak of nature Girard (loses runners 1 and 3)
2001 State Champion (loses runners 1, 4, 7)
2002 2nd to Maplewood (loses runner 5)
2003 2nd to Maplewood “Andy’s Fr year” (lose runners 1,3,4,5)
2004 State Champion (lose runners 2,3,4,5)
2005 15th in State (return all seven)
2006 3rd in State to STA and EC (lose runners 1,2)
2007 2nd in State to monstrous STA (lose runner 1)

Regardless of the number of runners that they lose, Chris Rupe will have a State contending team. Dugan should replace Holland as a front runner going 16:20’s or better. Devita, Ronghi, Natoli, and Thorton can run 16:40’s with Natoli running even lower. Many suggest that Russia could dash the hopes of McDonald this year, being that they BOTH lose runner #1, however, if Russia was going to beat McDonald, 2007 was that year. Last year the Raiders brought back all 7 runners from 2006 while the Blue Devils lost runners 1 and 2 but McDonald was still able to hold them off by six points. This is still going to be exciting, because we all know that anything can happen and the top 5-6 teams this PRE SEASON all could be contenders.


2. Bellaire St. John Central

A coin flip is how I choose the Irish over the Rockets, but let me explain why the #1 team from Pickerington has a fighting chance. In 2006, coach Midei had his team finish 5th in the State, only three points behind 4th and 10 seconds per runner behind 3rd place. The following year, losing runners 1 and 2, BSJ finishes an astounding 4th. It looks to me like we have a powerhouse team to rival that of the NE region. For 2008, the Green and White lose only their third runner but he is secretly (and evenly) replaced by injured Swartz to make the Irish the surprise team of the year (surprise only because they are not from Boardman). The only logical reason I can put BSJ in front of Maplewood is because of #1 runner Foster, who may break 16:00 this year and the rockets do not have that front runner. Holubeck runs a 16:30 while runners 3-5 interchange themselves between 16:40 and 16:50. If any of Maplewood’s pack emerges as a front runner, they jump the Irish. If BSJ’s 5th can’t break 17:00, they dip down to the 3rd place and maybe under Russia at 4th. Maplewood has proven that they can produce and are waiting to pounce. The Irish had better prepare.


3. Cortland Maplewood

The 2nd team from Boardman might also be the second team in the State on the first Saturday in November. In August, they are 3rd. From the start they return the super sophomores (who are now juniors). Next, the rockets are coached by Ted Rupe who has a 70% success rate of finishing in the top 4 over the last decade with team titles in ’02, ’03, and ’05, whilst finishing as runners up in ’98 and ’01. You can expect Eric Rupe to lay down the law with and incredible season hovering around 16:20’s followed (closely) by Bottorff, Harrison, and Grayson in the low 16:40’s. Which leaves one more to score as that important 5th runner. Earlier rankings suggest that the absence of a 5th runner puts into question the viability of team success. This is not the case when your coach is Ted Rupe. Their will be a #5, we just aren’t aware of who he is yet.


4. Russia

The #1 team from Troy returns runners 2-7 and have a cast of thousands to choose from. Okay, not thousands, but when you run DIII schools, a team of 30+ is monstrous. Doug Foster is a seasoned coach with tenure from Covington of the 90’s and is no stranger to success. Most logic would place Russia higher on the list as they finished a powerful third in 2007. Here is the reason: Toller is a fantastic lead runner in the 16:20’s, Ball is a mid 16:30’s and Bornhorst runs a 16:40 as their third guy with Meyer and Pohlman rounding a super solid 4-5 runners under 17:00. This team wins nine out of ten years. The only problem this is that 10th year. I am very suspect about my choice and I am probably wrong, but that is what opinions are for. Russia didn’t seem to have the same rate of improvement for their runners from 2006 into 2007 as the teams that are ranked higher. It is this statistical trend that is causing me to place them here. Now, here is why I am wrong. 30 plus members on their team, and I do not need to explain the relevance of this advantage.

5. Grandview Heights

The top five in the State are in a class all to their own, with a significant difference from the teams ranked below them. The #2 out of Pickerington, on paper, looks poised to wreak havoc on the rest of the State as they return all seven from a 15th place finish in 2007. I stress on paper because this is a familiar scenario from seasons past. An upstart team looks to upend uber Northeast excellence. The powerhouses from Boardman versus any pioneering school from the rest of the State. Will there be a changing of the guard? 5th place Mt. Gilead of 2005 returns all to finish 8th in 2006. 15th place Bellaire Saint John of 2003 returns all to finish 14th in 2004. This puts an onus on the Bobcats in their attempt to upstage the perennial favorites. The best Grandview will finish is 5th because they will lack a true front runner. I predict this team to have a very solid pack from 16:50 – 17:10, with Pineriro as the difference maker. CGH easily make the trip from Pickerington to Scioto Downs but without a front runner, should get past the likes of STA, Pettisville, New Bremen, and East Canton putting the Bobcats in a fight with New London for 9th. Ironically, the Wildcats of New London and the bobcats of Grandview appear to have a similar setup in runner distribution. Here is why I could be wrong. Nothing is more powerful of a motivation then returning all seven and THINKING you have a shot at a top 4 finish in the State.


6. St. Thomas Aquinas

The Teams from the Boardman region are always tough. I watched as several of the schools in the North East lose half of their varsity five and yet still clean clocks at the State level. I am putting the Knights here because of the aforementioned reason. Nate Addessi is a very solid front runner and will battle East Canton’s Henning for #1 team points (along with Potes for Fredericktown). McKelley could be a solid 16:30 guy as well as Kirksey. So that gives them a very formidable 1-2-3 up to this point. After that, I’m not sure who there is (kind of like Mount Gilead). I did find Pusateri and Bond who both could be 18:00 flat guys. This team looks much like Yellow Springs of 2006 with their weakened 4-5 runners. East Canton (Boardman #4) looks very similar in team makeup (with an advantage to EC’s Long for the #2 and STA’s Kirksey for the #3). Here is a morsel that I found, possible 4-5’s both ran together @ Sparta Invite last year with Pusateri and Bond of STA beating Shrum and Sharp of EC by about 20 seconds. The Knights should beat the Hornets at Regionals, but the defending State champions of 2007 may not have the depth to place any higher then 6th overall in 2008.


7. Pettisville

Sorry NW Ohio, here is your Champion. Is it ironic that the Blackbirds, under the guidance of Tom Wagner finished the 2007 in 7th place too? Here is what Pettisville has: front runner Austin Borton who may crack the elusive 16:00 barrier. Lincoln Frey keeps the score low by running a mid 16:30’s. Nofziger is capable of running a mid 17:10’s and Hamilton can finish with a mid 17:30’s. Now, here is the tricky part, can coach Wagner develop a 5th runner because I can’t find one? Pettisville and Troy #2 (New Bremen) score very closely for me but this is only because Borton is so fast and the Pettisville coach is so good. Tiffin #2 (Sandusky Saint Mary) is also looking weak at the 5 spot so hail to the victor.


8. New Bremen



A very well rounded team with a front runner in Kremer (16:30’s) and a supporting staff of Knapke and Speckman at 17:00. What makes the Cardinals so high on my list is an intact 4th runner @ 17:20 and 5th runner at mid 17:30’s. The team is already assembled and now they just have to get ready. Troy #3 (St. Henry) and Troy #4 (New Knoxville) are teams that the Cardinals need to keep eyes on and their legs on the road taking nothing for granted. The difference being that New Bremen currently has all scoring 5.


9. East Canton

The Hornets make a triumphant return to Scioto Downs after a heart breaking one point 5th place finish in 2007. This year, the yellow and blue take the #4 place at Boardman. Gabe Henning might be the individual State Champion and Chad Long is going to run in the 16:10 range. Lee Sternberg knows how to make great runners and this years 1-2 punch WILL be the best in the state. So how can the 2008 version of the Hornets sit in 4th position @ Youngstown if runners one and two are so good? Regional races are won with the pack and this is what the Hornets lack. The punishing 1-2 scoring attack loses its luster when 16:10 gets you second and 16:30 gets you third in the team race, there just aren’t any points to be added to the other teams. This is how New London (#10) might be able to beat the team of East Canton. Look for Shrum, Sharp, and DeRosa and tail them to the finish.


10. New London

Has the making of a very strong team. The 5th team out of Boardman has five varsity runners returning in a tight pack from 16:40 – 17:20 (to be lead by Thomas). If I were to look for any visible weakness there would be two. First, the Wildcats have no standout front runner and second, New London has to run at Youngstown! Yes, I feel the 10th best team in the State will not be running there! I can’t see any possible way for NL to do too much better than their 2007 finish of 6th (only eight points out). We can all agree that New London was a fantastic squad this past season but they look to be in a precarious position again. One feasible method would be for coach Geist to have runners 2-6 hunt down the number 3 runner from Boardman #4 team and get 20 seconds on him before the wooded area before the finish. It will be close, but this one looks bleak for the Redskins. Too bad!




Regional Predictions

(Assuming all teams that can choose their Region go to the same Region as last year)

Youngstown Region 9

1. McDonald

2. Courtland Maplewood

3. St. Thomas Aquinas

4. East Canton

5. New London

6. Gilmour Academy

Bart Merkel will be a great one spot for the Lancers, scoring very low at both the regional and State level. While the complementing staff of Pryatel (great speed), Vargo and May (talented youth) and track star Preston Hoge would be sufficant at any other region. I feel that this group may only achieve only slightly better than their 2006 and 2007 finish of 7th place. Gilmour could move up in ranking once Pryatel gets some strength in is legs but that will still not be enough to dislodge the monsters at the top of the Boardman region.


Tiffin Region 10

1. Pettisville

2. St. Mary Central Catholic

The Panthers are a small team with a nice front four. I put Central in that 12 spot because they looked slightly better than the team above them, NK. Coach Leech has a possible one – two in Juniors Gallager and Ferber that can run in the mid 16:40’s. If these two harriers can get to the 40’s and under, they will be front-of-the-pack runners, which is why I see SSMC making a return trip to the Big Dance. The Navy and Gold have a solid third man that will be a 17:15 guy and a fourth guy at 17:50 or better. It’s the fifth runner (who currently looks like an 18:30 runner) that makes Saint Mary’s just a top 12 team. In my opinion, Tiffin may be the weakest region this fall and the Panthers will benefit greatly from this.

3. Bloomdale Elmwood

This team has cross country’s version of the double edged sword. The Royals find themselves in the top 20 because of superstar Ryan Green, a single point scorer at the State level yet may not hold that coveted top four finish because of runners 2-5! Betts is going to be a low to mid 17 guy at second runner which is great but the pack of 3-5 might only crack 18:00 at best (they could do better of course). Regionals is won on the back of the pack and Elmwood doesn’t have it on paper. Look for West Unity and Stryker to seek and destroy the Royals around the baseball fields on Tiffin’s course to try and add points to Greens first place score.

4. Stryker

I had to flip a coin for Stryker and Hilltop! It is too close to call. Graber is slightly ahead of WUH #1, while the pack of: Planson and Rohrs @ 17:00 and a second pack of Hissong and Rachel both breaking 18:00. This group, on paper, looks to be better than the 4-5 of Unity Hilltop. Again, this position on my super 24 will change!

5. West Unity Hilltop

A new team to the ranks of the States elite, the Cadets are a very exciting squad to watch. Very young last year, Hilltop road on the back of Elliot Livenspager to a 10 place team finish. Now his younger brother (Cody Livensparger) and a cast of stellar sophomores: Baker, King, Filip and Burwell could propel the red and white back to the State Finals. Be on the lookout for this crew as they may upend Tiffin #3, and #4

6. Gorham Fayette

Gorham Fayette last visited Scioto Downs in 2005 and may make the push this year if coach Stambaugh can get is very youthful squad ready for post season action. Randall, Brooks, and Colegrove are three super talented sophomores that could allow the Eagles to contend with Tiffin favorites Pettisville and Sandusky Saint Mary. Randall may be a mid 16:30’s, while Brooks look on pace to crack the 17:00 barrier and Colegrove may be a mid 17:30’s guy. The purple and gold will be on the outside looking though if Seniors Keefer and Kovar fail to break 18:00 (which would be about a 30 second drop for both of them from their Junior years). The only caveat that I might add is the addition of 9th grader Trevor Cox who could help be the push for the #5 to get under 18:00.


Pickerington Region 11

1. Bellaire St. John Central

2. Grandview Heights

3. Fredericktown


The Freddies have the phenomenal sophomore sensation Isaac Potes yet lack the firepower behind him. McGuire is a nice looking #2 (when comparing to Caldwell) however, Caldwell will put their 5 in front of Fredericktown #3. Coach Dennis Stevens does have a nice pack in play (just cracking 18:00), but they can’t let it rest squarely on the shoulders of their front runner or Gilead and Caldwell will steal a State berth from them.

4. Caldwell

Tyler Cordell leads the varsity five back to try and avenge a fifth place Regional finish of 2007. The team is young and obviously well coached. The 800m doesn’t always translate well to a 5K time so Caldwell may not have a front runner in Cordell. The success of the team almost solely lies in his front running ability. The Noble County Redskins will have a solid pack under 17:40 but that may not be enough to hold off a hard charging Gilead team. Caldwell IS a dark horse though and could make some end of season noise.

5. Mt. Gilead

Let’s be honest, coach West has lost 4 of his top 7, how can he recover from that? BROTHERS Branson and Camden West and Jake and Dustin Hayes. The Indians are a complete guess for me. I have so much respect for this program that I researched their Jr. High team. In any given year, Mt. Gilead will finish in the top ten at State, so how can I leave them off my super 24 list? Teams 14, 15, and 16 seem very close in ability and they each hail from the same Pickerington Region (should make for the most exciting race of the weekend). All of us in the distance world know about Colton Johnson and his superior 3200m at the State finals this past spring and he should place in the top 8 as an individual. Dustin Hayes should be a sufficient #2 runner and Scott should be a mid 17:30’s guy. These three runners, in and of themselves, make for a formidable team but no one knows who runners 4 and 5 are. So I put the purple and white here out of honor.

6. Liberty Union

Two juniors in Kohler and McCormick should be running in the mid to low 17’s while two sophomores Motts and Burnside should be hot on their tails. That’s 4 guys under 17:30! Unfortunately we score five for cross country. If Coach Morris can train up a fifth runner to break 18:00 this fall, Liberty could make some noise around Regional weekend.


Troy Region 12

1. Russia

2. New Bremen

3. St. Henry

4. New Knoxville

What I like about this team is that they are all Juniors and that they run in a tight pack. Finishing 7th at last year’s regional race (a dozen or so points out) the Rangers will make some racket. I predict that NK will put runners 1-5 under 17:15 and scare the short shorts off Troy teams 2 & 3. I am going to leave their names off my list because that is the best way to run in a pack, nameless! Look out!

5. Yellow Springs


In my super 24, Yellow Springs is slightly better than the teams that are currently in 18-20, but Vince Peters squad should handle Minster and Fort Loramie out of their region with relative ease. The Bulldog’s always seem to be in the fight. Alexis Onfroy appears to be a top tier runner after a quite remarkable track season and a low to mid 16:20’s might be possible. Patterson interests me as a sophomore (low 17:00’s) while the brothers Gunderkline could (should) both be mid 17:30’s. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that YS will upend Troy #4, but the Region as a whole should be aware of this well prepared team.

6. Minster

This was difficult because Minster bumped off a very respectable Fort Loramie team. The reason that I have given the nod to the Wildcats of Auglaize County is because of Jack Olding, just how good is he going to get? Yes, Loramie has a very nice one-two punch in Meinerding and Holland but I think that Minster will have its 2-4 runners of Richard, Abbott and Stechschulte @ 17:20 or better. 9th grader Slonkosky should help the vacant 5 man position.



Top 10 Returning Times

1. 16:04.11 Gabe Henning OH East Canton 2009 2007-11-03 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships
2. 16:8.33 Isaac Potes OH Fredericktown 2011 2007-10-20 OHSAA District Cross Country Meet -- Watkins Memorial
3. 16:08.79 Nate Addessi OH St. Thomas Aquinas 2009 2007-11-03 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships
4. 16:09.74 Ryan Green OH Elmwood 2009 2007-10-27 OHSAA Regional Cross Country Meet -- Tiffin
5. 16:17.91 Austin Borton OH Pettisville 2009 2007-11-03 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships
6. 16:18.00 Isaiah Bragg OH Cincinnati Christian 2010 2007-08-25 Adidas Saturday Night Lights
7. 16:20.94 Jim Heider OH Lima Central Catholic 2009 2007-10-27 OHSAA Regional Cross Country Meet -- Tiffin
8. 16:24.00 Bryson Wade OH Newark Catholic 2009 2007-09-12 Falcon Invitational
9. 16:25.60 Colin Cotton OH Summit Country Day 2011 2007-09-15 Cedarville University Invitational
10. 16:26.39 Colton Johnson OH Mount Gilead 2009 2007-11-03 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships