Richards didn't waste any time moving up to the front, as she led the field through 1 mile in 5:41 and at the 2 mile marker in 11:39. Her 18:16.2 official finishing time was good for a 6-second gap on runner-up Megan Adams.
Adams, a senior from West Liberty-Salem, solidified her second place standing with an 18:22.0 mark.
Now two years into her high school career, Richards is a 2-time Ohio XC state champion. She earned her inaugural title last year at Fortress Obetz in 18:22.3.
As we noted in our preview article, it took Richards a little while to rev up her 2021 season, but once she found her rhythm there was no stopping her.
With wins now in four straight races, and none bigger than Saturday of course, it'll be interesting to see if Richards elects to continue racing this fall at Regional level competitions or if she's going to shut her XC season down.
Regardless, a hugely impressive display of racing was put forth on her behalf at Memorial Park and she'll an opportunity to continue to chase history at this same venue next year as a junior.
Minster were ranked at the No. 1 spot according to the OATCCC pre-state poll and they more than backed up that standing once the gun sounded on Saturday.
Led by sophomore Margaret Hemmelgarn, who placed third overall in 18:23.1, the Wildcats scored at places 2-6-13-20-25 for 66 points and an emphatic 42 point margin of victory over the runner-up squad from Liberty Center.
Junior Taylor Roth joined the aforementioned Hemmelgarn with All-Ohio status due to her 9th place overall finish in 18:42.1.
Minster's latest team title represents their fifth in six years dating back to the 2016 season.
Braden Yingst came into the state meet as a proven winner this season by going an impressive 11 for 11 in terms of race individual victories. Now make it an even dozen as the senior from Lima-Perry kept his unblemished record in tact.
He shared lead duties with Hayden Schmidt, as the duo came through 1 mile with matching 4:55.7 marks and there was a good deal of company just a few strides behind. Fourteen other runners were within four seconds at that point.
The lead continued to grow for Yingst, though. By 2 miles he held a four second advantage all to himself and then he really opened it up.
His 15:29.4 official finishing time represented a 15-second margin over Schmidt, who collected runner-up honors in 15:44.7.
While crossing the line first was Yinst's key objective, a complementary achievement is that his clocking stands as a new personal best over the 5 kilometer distance.
They swept the latest OATCCC poll gathering all twelve first place votes and even our own MileSplit team unanimously favored them to hoist the team title in our pre-meet predictions with all six of our staff members siding with the Pacmen.
Whether they felt any added pressure or not, likely only they would know. That certainly didn't appear to be the case, though.
Great contributions also came from Braxton Ohman, Landen Demos and Nathanael Martin, who scored at places 13-28-44, respectively, which ultimately led to them outpacing a very game squad from Mount Gilead by a 15 point margin.
This marks the second consecutive state title earned by East Canton.
There was nothing close about Hartman's result this time around.
She dominated the field, holding huge time advantages at the 1 mile check-point (26 seconds) and at the 2 mile marker (42 seconds) before comfortably crossing the line at 17:31.6, 31 seconds ahead of her Oakwood teammate Bella Butler, who secured runner-up honors with a high quality 18:31.6 performance.
Just a junior, Butler will have an opportunity to keep the DII individual state title stationed at Oakwood High School for a third consecutive year when she makes her likely return to Fortress Obetz as a senior.
These teams proved to be evenly matched at Region 7 last weekend, where they went 1-2 (also in Minerva's favor). At the state meet, they demonstrated that again and also showed the strength of the Central Region in the process.
Jack Agnew and Noah Graham ran shoulder-to-shoulder for much of the Division II contest with Agnew finding some separation late to seal the victory in what went down as the closest individual finishing sequence of the day.
The duo came through the 1 mile and 2 mile check points with virtually identical 4:53 and 9:54 times.
While none bigger than this one, Agnew's victory represented his ninth individual triumph of the season.
For the Division II team crown, it was the group from Marlington who cruised to 1st place overall.
Leaning on front-running from the aforementioned Noah Graham, the Alliance-based squad recorded 77 points for a 76 point margin victory over Woodridge, the 4-time reigning state champs heading into Saturday's meet.
Beyond Graham doing yeoman's work for the squad, the Dukes also benefited from All-Ohio performances by Colin Cernansky in 7th at 15:58.1 and the 15th place finisher Liam Blake, who recorded a 16:05 flat mark.
That order would remain unchanged through to the finish line and by 3.1 miles, Shope had increased the lead to 7 seconds. The senior took the Division I title back to Gahanna Lincoln with an outstanding 17:32.1 winning effort.
Clute, a junior, improved upon her 7th place finish last year with runner-up distinction on Saturday by virtue of her 17:39.7 result.
Westlake's Peer secured 3rd in the standings with her 17:44.4 mark and she was joined by Mia Robillard and Aubrey Duhaime as sub 18-minute performers. Robillard, the 2020 state champion, went 17:54.3 and Duhaime, a Perrysburg senior, posted a 17:59.8 mark.
When the final numbers were punched, it was the Yellow Jackets who prevailed by an 8-point margin (101-109).
Earlier, we cited the MileSplit team's wisdom with our unanimous selection of East Canton as the men's winning DIII team, so in the spirit of being well-rounded, we acknowledge that we completely missed the Division I team call with only one of our members siding with Perrysburg.
They ranked strong in the latest OATCCC poll at No. 3, however they garnered zero first place votes from the state's coaches.
Were they overlooked? Maybe, but we're quite sure all that matters very little to the Wood County-based squad as in the end they proved to everyone that they are the 2021 OHSAA State Champions.
That's really the only way to describe William Zegarski's performance in the day's final race.
Off the gun, he got out of the gates lightning quick and he never let up. Our field reporter at the first check-point Nate Shively Tweeted that, "Zegarski is on 14:11 pace."
It was reasonable to think this may have been a typo. It wasn't.
The Little Miami senior crushed his first full mile in 4:34 and his 2 mile split was 9:20. 5:19 over the final 1.1 miles sealed him the victory with an incredible final mark of 14:39.9. A time which etched Zegarski's name in the OHSAA record book as the fastest ever produced at the state meet.
While all that matters to Zegarski is that he's the state champion, the stats we can uncover from this showing will be seemingly endless. Ohio No. 1, US No. 7, a new PR and a new school record are just a few of the complementary accolades associated with his mark.
Zegarski was not the only competitor to eclipse the 15 minute benchmark, however. The same can be said for Hilliard Davidson junior Connor Ackley, who claimed second overall in 14:58.1. Ackley's effort led his Wildcats squad to third place overall in the team standings.
On the Division I team side, Mason demonstrated depth that just couldn't be overcome.
Led by All-Ohioans Alex Deroussel and Aiden Amshoff, the Comets produced 106 points for a 38 winning spread. Keith Neuburger, Jerry Xu and Max Liao also played key roles for Mason with their 24-26-37 scoring placements.
The Shamrocks leaned on Liam Shaughnessy's front-running. The junior classman went 15:24.8 for 5th place overall.