For the first time since 2011, the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships found a new home at Fortress Obetz after spending the past nine years hosting the event at the National Trail Raceway.
There was a lot that happened on Saturday and we did our best to recap the 2020 Ohio State Cross Country Championships that wrapped up a stellar 2020 season, highlighting some of the best performances, achievements and stories from the event.
Entering Saturday, Fredericktown's Thomas Caputo was ranked second in Division 3 seeking his first cross country state title after going undefeated in 2020 and finishing sixth at this meet one year ago.
Caputo stuck with the lead group through the first two miles and was able to make a move not too long after, holding off Belpre's Eli Fullerton to win his first XC state championship race. Caputo capped off his perfect season with a three second personal record, running a 15:31.5.
Caputo's victory did not come easily though. Through the first mile, there was a pack of nine separated by 7/10 of a second in the front led by Cedarville's Ethan Wallis, who crossed the first mile at 4:54.1. The pack of nine also consisted of 2019 state champion Derek Amicon from Grandview Heights, who sought his second straight state title.
Over the course of the second mile, Wallis would slightly fall off the pace of the lead pack, which narrowed to six. Eli Fullerton continued the charge for the lead group, coming through the second mile at a 10:01.6, with Minster's Alex Albers, Canton Central Catholic's Barrett Scheatzle, and Caputo on his heels.
From there, Caputo was able to separate from the field where he would enter Fortress Obetz Stadium in first place and win his first cross country state championship. Fullerton would cross the line second, running a 15:36.4. Defending champion Derek Amicon, who ran a 15:43.4, would round out the top 3, narrowly out kicking South Range's Spencer Bush, who crossed the line fourth having run a 15:43.9.
Summit Country Day, who looked to defend their 2019 state championship, came through the first mile leading the team race by four points. However, it was all East Canton after that, who would cross the second mile with a demanding 27 point lead.
East Canton would go on to capture their first state championship since 2017 defeating Summit Country Day by five points. East Canton, led by Grant Schiling, averaged a 16:42, bolstering a 1:05 1-5 spread.
Mount Gilead would finish third, followed by Holgate who came in 4th, finished tied with Canton Central Catholic at 200 points, and was given the advantage thanks to their sixth man freshman Logan Miller.
The first of many close races on Saturday came when Maplewood's freshman Caleigh Richards won her first state championship, running a 18:23.3, overcoming a late push by Carey's Sarah Reinhart, who crossed the line in a 18:24.0. The two dueled from the start, both crossing the first and second mile markers within 4/10 of a second from one another and at the end, it was Richard who would come out on top.
Waynesfield-Goshen's Taylor Spencer led the first mile, crossing the line in a 5:29.5, which was more than ten seconds ahead of Reinhart, who came through the first mile at a 5:39.9. The chase pack of four, which also included Gilmour Academy's Amy Weybrecht and Mount Gilead's Allison Johnson, would close the gap on Spencer and take over the lead before the second mile. Reinhart would stay in control of the race, crossing the second mile, first, in a 11:42.6.
From there, Richards and Reinhart would duel to the finish, where Richards would barely take the victory. Weybrecht would cross the line in third, running a 18:30.9, and Johnson would finish 4th, running a 18:38.2.
West Liberty-Salem entered the day the favorites in the Division 3 girls team race, entering Saturday with a team average of 18:56. Although they would not average quite that quick of a time, West Liberty-Salem would still handily win the race, finishing 27 points ahead of second place Minster, scoring an impressive 55 points.
Minster, who finished second, still managed to score just 83 points, well ahead of the competition. Liberty Center rounded out the top 3, scoring 115 points.
Seeking their third straight championship, Woodridge, led by Ryan Champa, dominated the Division 2 boys race on Saturday, successfully defending their championship crown. However, before a team champion was crowned, it was Champa who would win the 2020 Division 2 individual title, running a 15:42.
Champa was in command for much of the race, coming through the first mile at a 4:52.1, leading the front pack which consisted of about fourteen runners. Marlington's Noah Graham would lead the pack through the second mile with Champa, who both crossed at a 9:59.2. After that, Champa would slowly begin to build on his lead and would run away with his first cross country state championship, running a 15:42.9.
CVCA's Drennan Akins would follow Champa in second, running a 15:49.8, improving on his thirteenth place finish in 2019. Noah Graham would round out the top 3, running a 15:54.1, fending off Carroll's Kevin Agnew, who finished in fourth, running a 15:54.3.
Woodridge was in control of the Division 2 boys race, crossing the first and second miles in the lead before convincingly winning their third straight state championship. Woodridge averaged a time of 16:29, with a 1-5 split of 1:24.
Behind Woodridge, Waynesville and Unioto tied at 149 points, which would come down to the Waynesville sixth runner Denver Johnson, who put the Spartans over the top, finishing 88th in team scoring, four spots ahead of Unioto's sixth runner.
For the third straight year, the Division 2 girls race came down to Oakwood's Grace Hartman and Hawken's Ella Gilson. In 2918 and 2019, it was Gilson who edged out Hartman to win her first and second cross country state championship. In perhaps the race of the day, Hartman flipped the script and put an end to Gilson's championship reign, winning by 1/10 of a second. Hartman, who won her first state championship, ran a 18:04.1 and Gilson finished in second running a 18:04.2.
The two were neck and neck all day, sitting in the middle of the lead pack and eventually taking over the race shortly after the second mile. Johnstown-Monroe's Reece Savage led the race through the first mile, crossing in a 5:39.7. Lexington's Halle Hamilton would come through the second mile in the lead, splitting a 11:37.1, with five girls within five seconds of each other.
At the end. Hartman and Gilson would separate themselves and battle down the homestretch through Fortress Obetz Field, but at the end, Hartman would outlean Gilson in a race like no other, winning the Division 2 girls cross country state championship. Hamilton would round out the top 3, running a 18:25.3.
For the Division 2 girls race, Lexington entered the day in a similar situation as the Woodridge boys team, seeking their fourth straight state championship. Led by two All Ohio finishers Halle Hamilton and Lily Weeks, the Lexington girls were successful in capturing their fourth straight state championship, scoring 113 points.
Oakwood would finish behind Lexington despite having the fastest average time in the Division 2 race, running a 19:20. The Oakwood girls would finish 1st, 4th, and 5th in team scoring, coming up just short of a team championship. Akron SVSM, who came through the first mile with a demanding 62 point lead, would round off the top 3 fending off Woodridge by just 4 points.
In the Division 1 boys race, it was a battle of the heavyweights as two of the states best set to battle it out. Uniontown-Lake's Nathan Moore and St. Xavier's Nathan Mountain, who both entered as top 11 runners in the country, went toe-to-toe over the course of the first two miles, splitting a 4:46 first mile and 9:42 second mile. However, at the end, it was Nathan Moore who would prevail and race towards an impressive sub 15 performance, running a 14:59.5.
Moore, on the way to winning his first state championship, began to pull away from Mountain soon after crossing the second mile, putting a 27 second gap between the two. Mountain would finish in second, running a 15:26.
Behind the top two finishers, a chase pack began to form following the first mile. The large lead pack that came through the first mile with the leaders slowly dwindled to about five at the second mile marker. Bellbrook's Takumi Ford, who finished third, led the chase pack through the second mile, and was closely followed by St. Xavier's Conor Bohrer, who finished fourth and Lakota West's Zach Beneteau, who finished eighth.
Ford raced towards a 15:32.3, coming up just short of tracking down Mountain and capturing the second spot on the podium. Bohrer quickly followed, running a 15:34.5. Beavercreek's Connor Ewert rounded out the top 5, running a 15:38.9.
St. Xavier entered the day as heavy favorites in the Division 1 boys race, who were led by two of the states fastest. However, it was Lakota West who would come out on top, shocking the state in the process.
With an average time of 16:03, Lakota West narrowly upset St. Xavier 73 points to 75. St. Xavier, who averaged an impressive 15:59, came up just short of winning their second straight state championship, but still had an amazing day.
Through the first mile, St. Xavier held onto a six point advantage, but Lakota West was able to make the pass at the second mile and never looked back. Beavercreek, who ran in fourth the first two miles, would round out the top 3 with an average time of 16:18, scoring 143 points.
The Centerville girls came to race on Saturday. Sophomore Mia Robillard and senior Emma Bucher finished first and second, both clocking sub 18 performances. Robillard and Bucher both ran in the lead pack for the first two miles, but found separation late in the race and were able to create an amazing moment for the fans to cap off the day at Fortress Obetz, kicking down the homestretch for the state championship. Robillard would hold off her teammate to win her first cross country state championship, running a 17:58.5. Bucher ran a 17:59.8.
The first mile was taken out quickly with twenty girls running under 5:40. Annie Bennett from Toledo St. Ursula Academy would come through the first mile at a 5:30.4. Bennett would finish sixth, clocking 18:10.1. Gahanna Lincoln's Alyssa Shope would come through the second mile in the lead running a 11:27.4. Shope would finish in fifth, outlasting Bennett at the end, also running a 18:10.1.
Beavercreek's Juliann Williams would stick with the lead pack for the entirety of the race and finish in third, running a 18:04.0. Williams led the defending champions Beavercreek to an eighth place finish.
In the girls team race, the top two finishes by Robillard and Bucher would be enough for the Centerville girls to take home the Division 1 girls team championship, scoring 128 points and averaging a 18:55. Hilliard Davidson would finish second, just ten points behind Centerville with an impressive 1-5 split of 51 seconds and averaging a 19:07.
Shaker Heights, who entered the day on the outside of the top 5, finished third, scoring 159 points and averaging a 19:09.