Recapping OHSAA State Cross Country Championships

(Division III champion Brylan Holland ~ photo via Chris Greene)

OBETZ, Oh. -- Fortress Obetz, on Saturday, for the third consecutive year, played host to the top Division I, Division II and Division III qualifying individuals and teams for the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships.

In the day's opener, boys Division III, a rematch ensued from one of the closest race finishes we observed all season just one week prior at Youngstown Region 9. There, Luke Snyder, out of Rittman, out leaned East Canton senior Brylan Holland at the line for a hard-fought regional title earned on Boardman's 5-kilometer course. The two Northeast Ohio runners would once again go 1-2, but this time the order was reversed. 

Holland, who won state meet gold the past two years with the formidable Pac-Men program, added an individual state championship to his assortment of team hardware. By no means a run-away, but decisive enough, Holland went 15:41.7 to Snyder's second place mark of 15:50.8 for a 9-second victory. Just a freshman and now with valuable big meet experience to draw upon, expect Snyder to vie for state titles for years to come. 

In the three and four spots were a pair of Bluffton seniors, Landon Armstrong in 15:55.3 and Erik Nygaard in 15:59.2. Whiteoak sophomore Landen Eyre rounded out the top 5 finishing with a 16:04.1 mark. 

Team champions Mount Gilead were anchored by sophomore Will Baker's 10th place effort plus two additional All-Ohio performances with Parker Bartlett in 13th and Reed Supplee one spot behind.

The point-earning unit for the Indians scored in positions 6-8-9-20-39 for 82-points and built a 69-point spread between them and the runner-up team from Ottawa Hills (151 points). 

(Minster and Fort Loramie ~ photo via Kateri Sherman)

Arguably the most favored team to win across Ohio's three divisions on Saturday was Region 10 champion, and reigning state titlists, Minster. They ended up successfully executing the repeat with a 63-point tally.

All-Ohio showings from Margaret Hemmelgarn in 17th and Taylor Roth in 18th plus two more inside the top 30 and the entire scoring unit within the top 40 (Chaney Cedarleaf, 23rd, Maria Niekamp, 27th and Annie Hemmelgarn, 39th) carried the team to victory.

The Wildcats scored at positions 8-9-11-14-21 for a win which marks their sixth in the past seven years.

Led by 9th place finisher Camille Borchers (18:41.4), Region 12 champions Fort Loramie placed second with 119 points.

Individually, Paige Steinke, an Anna junior, kept her remarkable undefeated campaign intact with her twelfth straight victory and, none of course, bigger than her latest.

A 17:46.1 mark gave Steinke 19-seconds of separation over 2nd and 3rd place finishers Jaylee Wingate (Norwayne) and 2-time defending champion Caleigh Richards (Maplewood), who shared a great battle to the line with matching 18:05.8 marks.

Wingate was awarded the runner-up spot with Richards securing third overall.

The race leader in the early going, Megan Hipple (McDonald) took fourth in 18:17 flat. 


What was the top performance from the Division III State Championships?

(Marlington pre-race ~ Photo via Shawn Conlon)

Dominant throughout the entire course of the season, that trend continued in the meet's third race for Division II power Marlington.

Champions from a year ago, the team from Alliance made it two in a row on the heels of top 5 finishes from individual champion Colin Cernansky and senior Nash Minor in 4th and junior Michael Nicholls in 5th. 

As they've experienced all fall long, Marlington got high quality showings out of their four and five men, this time being Logan Citino in 32nd and Cohen Boyce in 45th. 

When tallying the scoring placements, the Dukes recorded 56 points to secure the repeat. 

Individually the aforementioned Cernansky found a small degree of separation on Carroll's Jack Agnew late to earn a 3-second victory (15:26.0 to 15:29.7).

This marked the second consecutive year that Agnew shared the top two spots with a Marlington runner. During the meet's 2021 edition, the now Carroll senior edged the now graduated Noah Graham for gold. 

(Bella Butler putting the finishing touches on her DII win ~ Photo via Shawn Conlon)

Confirm it to be the third consecutive year that the Division II top individual prize will reside in Oakwood High School's trophy case.

Following back-to-back winning efforts by Grace Hartman in '20 and '21, 2022 was senior Bella Butler's turn. 

Second to teammate Hartman at last year's meet, Butler hit the 1 mile mark at 5:45, the 2 mile at 11:28 and cruised through the line at a steady 18:09.8 clocking for a 15-second gap over runner-up Samantha Erbach (Waynesville), who finished in 18:24.0. 

Following an ultra-narrow second place finish to the champions from Minerva at the 2021 state meet, Granville came back strong for the 2022 edition and got the job done, winning with 130 points. 

Led by Ella Johnson in 13th and recent Ohio State Buckeyes verbal commit Zoee Lehman in 30th, the Blue Aces continued their winning ways after coming out of the tough Region 7 a week prior as champions. Sophia Cotts, Lillian Eckels and Sophia Poling contributed to the scoring effort. 

The Blue Aces latest title is the second in their program's history. 


What was the top performance from the Division II State Championships?

(Mason's dual team champions ~ Photo via Shawn Conlon)

Displaying extreme depth, the Mason boys, without the services of Isaac Schachleiter for the entire race, still managed to successfully execute the repeat. Schachleiter, the squad's No. 1 throughout the season, started but did not finish his 5k run for the team. 

The Comets were led by Max Liao in 18th, James Mroczka in 32nd and Brendan Roe in 48th. Jerry Xu and Aidan Markich rounded out the scoring attack for the team in green and white with 56th and 60th place finishes. 

Mason scored at positions 12-18-27-34-37 for 128 points. Their latest title winning effort is the fourth in the team's history. Following the victory, Mason moved up 2-spots to No. 18 in the MileSplit50 national rankings. 

Region 4 rival St. Xavier, led by junior Evan Trapp in 8th overall at 15:42.2, produced 142 points for the runner-up spot in the standings. 

In the meet's finale, the Mason girls made it a Comets sweep with their title clinching triumph over Hilliard Davidson (75-91).

As they have been all season long, Mason was led by freshman Efa Paschka, who was 6th overall in 18:20.7. Grace McKay was two places behind in 8th at 18:31.8.

Bella Teply, Carlie Condit and Addison Stephens finalized their scoring with overall finishes in 31st, 33rd and 34th. The state meet win is Mason's third in team history. 

The Wildcats leaned on top 10 efforts up front from Virginia Tech verbal commit Caitlyn Jones in 4th and Ohio State verbal commit Dillon Sweetman in 9th. They clocked 18:19.0 and 18:33.0, respectively. 

(Connor Ackley on the homestretch toward the finish line ~ Photo via Shawn Conlon)

While we all can acknowledge that predictions exercises like our MileSplit Ohio pre-meet piece and state rankings lists matter little once the gun sounds, for what it's worth, they both held true to form with respect to Saturday's Division I individual champions. 

Connor Ackley and Katie Clute were close in recent years. For 2022, neither left any doubt.

In the men's contest Ackley hung in the lead pack for the first mile, but then broke away with GlenOak's Tommy Rice in mile two. He split 4:53 with the group then 9:43 with Rice prior to building the onset of his separation. Ackley closed with authority, ultimately earning a commanding 15-second win with a 15:10.1 finish time. 

In a great duel for second, Dublin Jerome's Sam Ricchiuti clawed his way back from a 7-second deficit on Rice at the two mile marker to take the runner-up spot in 15:25.6. The University of Tennessee bound Rice secured third in 15:26.8. 

Taking positions second and third a year ago, Katie Clute and Sarah Peer each moved up a spot in this year's standings with Clute punctuating an remarkable season, winning for the tenth time in as many starts on Buckeye state soil. She's likely to take her game abroad in the coming weeks with a variety of regional running opportunities being available. 

Officially, Clute, an Olmsted Falls senior and University of Oregon commit, went 17:25.1 for a 19-second advantage over Peer, who posted a 17:44.2 time for silver. 

In our way-too-early 2023 projections, Westlake's Peer, a junior, would seem to be poised as the clear Division I favorite heading into her senior year. 


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