It was another fast evening at this year's edition of Centerville High School's Saturday Night Lights. One of Ohio's premier events both for its competitive fields and its incredible atmosphere, Saturday's meet did not disappoint.
Saturday Night Lights is a twilight meet hosted on Centerville's High School campus and boasts some of the most unique features along it's 5000 Meter course. The race enters the football/track and field stadium three times to a raucous crowd in the stands and loud music. The third entry is on the way to the finish line on the track. Racers do one grass loop around the athletic facilities and two loops around a farm-based terrain where spectators are not allowed, but, once the sun goes down, is lit by neon lights along the course. Athletes also receive free giveaways and glow-in-the-dark jewelry.
The enormous meet features an elementary school "fun run," four middle school races, eight varsity and open high school races, and two championship high school races to close out the evening.
The championship races are where we begin.
Matt Duvall, Nathan Moore Take It All The Way To The Line
It was a stunning finish in the evening's final race as Pickerington North senior Matt Duvall and Lake-Uniontown junior Nathan Moore took it all the way to the line. Two of the best in the state this season, it was anyone's guess who would cross first as they came down the home stretch. Duvall, though, would hold off Moore for the victory.
Both boys hung in the front pack throughout the race, clearing the first mile in 4:48. They were just behind Lebanon's Sam Duncan, who would eventually go on to finish ninth in 15:46.80. The pack through that first mile was strong, though, as 14 boys came through at 4:50 or better and with the top 20 all coming through under 4:55.
A new leader emerged as the front pack hit the two mile mark as Madison Central senior (KY) Connor O'Shea took command. O'Shea brought the group through in 9:53.7 with Duvall and Moore once again tracking behind. It was a tactical race for the two as that they watched several fall from their front pack and O'Shea take over. As they passed into the stadium the final time, though, it was clear that Duvall and Moore were the cream of the crop.
Sprinting down the final stretch on the track, both boys scratched and clawed toward the finish line. Duvall was able to pull ahead with about 50 meters to go and finish just ahead of the junior from Uniontown, clocking a sterling new personal best time of 15:10.70. Moore would cross in 15:11.30, a 23 second personal best. The duo duked it out to the tune of a 4:48 final mile and officially established themselves as two of the top contenders for the Division 1 state title this November.
Duvall's winning time was the third fastest time in meet history, with Moore running the fourth fastest time. They also ran the second fastest senior and junior times, respectively, in meet history. Arjun Jha (Thomas Worthington) and Conant Smith (Middletown) are the only two who have ever ran faster at SNL with their 15:08 and 15:10 marks.
Addie Engel Runs New OH No. 1 Time
With her fourth sub-18:00 mark of the season, Springfield Catholic Central's Addie Engel is quickly establishing herself as one of the top athletes in the entire state. In fact, with her 17:16.40 time on Saturday night, she leap-frogged multiple-time National Champion and All-American Taylor Ewert for the top spot in the rankings.
The stand-out star senior is now a full minute ahead of her next closest competitor in Division 3 after stunning the field in the final two miles on Saturday. After taking it out in 5:19.9, right alongside Lebanon's Faith Duncan (who, like her brother, led through the first mile), Engel pulled away with a 5:40 second mile. She came through nine seconds ahead of Duncan and 10 seconds of both Oakwood's Grace Hartman and Hawken's Ella Gilson and never looked back.
Engel would cross the line in a personal best time, earning her fifth victory in the process, and continued her massive breakthrough cross country season. The 17:16.40 was the fourth fastest time in meet history and third fastest among seniors. Centerville's Emma Bucher would finish second on her home course in 17:26.30, nine seconds off her 17:17.70 personal best from the same meet a year ago. Hartman and Gilson would cross in third and fourth respectively. All totaled, 11 girls would cross the line in under 18:00, 4 more than 2018's race.
Hilliard Davidson Takes Down Talented Field
"To win a contest as loaded as SNL is a privilege," said Davidson Head Coach Nate King. "...facing Centerville and Mason -- among many other great teams -- was an exciting challenge for our team. Together, those two squads account for...six of the last seven state team titles, have among the largest teams in the country, and are extremely well-coached."
Led by one of the state's best distance runners in Lindsay Stull, the Wildcats pulled off the 17 point victory and solidified themselves as a force in Division 1. Stull ran her second 17:59 of the season en route to an 11th place finish.
Senior Sophia Hoersten was not too far back in 16th, clocking a 21 second personal best of 18:21.60. Keagan Gehring (44th) made it three Davidson ladies sub-19 in 18:59.40. Alyssa Mason (47th, 19:05.2) and Sydney Peterson (53rd, 19:10.7) rounded out the top 5, giving the girls a solid 18:43 average and 1:11 1-5 split.
"Our focus is on steady improvement over the course of the season and scope of one's career," Coach King mused.
"Thus far we are happy with our improvement as a team from the season's start until now, what we consider the mid-point. If we do our jobs in the next five weeks, we hope to have a stronger team come championship season."
Hilliard Davidson now ranks 1st among all teams in Division 1 according to our team scores feature.
Woodridge Runs Away With Team Title
It was Ohio's best Divsion 2 squad for the win in the Championship boys race as Woodridge left very little doubt about their prowess in 2019. Their 100 points significantly outpaced the second place squads from Solon (164 points) and Olentangy Orange (195).
Micah Blair (pictured above) led the way with his 6th place finish. Blair has had significant success on the Centerville course as his only two sub-16 efforts have come at SNL. His 15:42.50 personal best led three of his teammates under the barrier as Zayd Elkurd crossed in 12th in 15:51.20 and Ryan Champa went 15:58.80 for 20th. Elkurd's time was a massive 49 second personal best and 51 second season best. Champa also hit a personal best, his mark being 28 seconds better than his previous best.
Three in the top 20 was a boost for the Bulldogs, but number 4 and 5 men, Aaron Dutt and Andrew Lauck, locked down the victory with 48th and 51st place finishes. Both young men clocked their first ever sub-17 performances with Dutt's 16:29.40 being a 31 second personal best and Lauck's 16:34.20 being a 27 second best.
Woodridge now sits at number 1 among all Division 2 schools according to our team scores feature.
Ethan Wallis Leads Cedarville To Varsity A Victory
Wallis, Reese, and Lakota West's Cole Cronk all came through the mile as the only three under 5:00, but the pace eased way back in the second mile. Wallis would step into the lead, crossing the line in 10:20 with Reese just a tick behind him. Both boys had separated from the rest of the field at this point and would continue to jostle all the way to the finish.
Wallis would come across in a personal best 16:07.10 with Reese running his third time of the season between 16:08-16:12: 16:08.70. He was a half second off his time from 2018.
Cedarville would make a strong push in the third mile to leapfrog both Sycamore and Lakota West for the team title. With Wallis leading the way, Cedarville benefited from an impressive third mile from Trent Koning. He jumped eight places in that final stretch to take 9th overall in 16:38.30. The most impressive leap, though, came from fifth man Drew Mason who climbed 41 spots to 96th in the final mile to lock down the win for the Indians.
Hope Erbach Wins Varsity A, Indian Hill Takes Team Title
Waynesville's Hope Erbach was all smiles as she secured the victory in the Girls Varsity A race. The junior secured her first career win in 19:01.70. With a 5:42 first mile, she pulled away from the field immediately, coming through 2 miles 18 seconds ahead in 12:05, and won by 14 seconds over Indian Hill's Elizabeth Whaley.
Whaley would lead her squad to victory in this one, though, as the Indians scored 99 points to pace ahead of Hilliard Davidson.
Varsity B Race Winners
Alex Galbraith, Indian Hill - 16:19.50
Jenna Burns, New Richmond - 19:22.70