Good things come in fours. The Four Tops, four seasons, pro wrestling's Four Horsemen.
And when racing against more than 30 schools and more than 200 runners, a fourth-place finish in either category is a great accomplishment.
That was the mark reached by the Carey boys team, and Columbian's Brandon Gibson in their respective races at the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival Saturday at Hedges-Boyer Park.
Carey set the tone for area boys teams on the day, running in the Division III-B race, the first boys race and fourth overall on the day. Five-and-a-half hours later, Gibson put an exclamation point on the day with a spectacular individual performance in the Division I-B race.
Carey had three runners finish in the top 20, pleasing coach Dean Kessler, who knew his Blue Devils were going into the Carnival down a man.
"We're very happy with their results," he said. "One of our runners, our runner that finished first Tuesday at Wynford isn't here today; he's taking the ACT today, so we're kind of short-handed. It was just to see how well they could do after having a hard week of practice, and they did well."
Michael Patton paced the first place Blue Devils at Wynford Invitational finishing seventh overall. Despite him not being in the lineup, the Blue Devils maintained a solid core of runners up towards the front of the pack.
Braydon Leist was the lead man for Carey, finishing 12th in 18:20.30. He was closely followed by teammates Ben Kromer in 14th (18:22.10) and Zach Logsdon in 20th (18:27.78).
"We're just pretty well evenly matched time-wise and speed-wise," Kromer said. "Last year, it was nowhere like that. This year, we all gained some muscle, built some endurance. We're all trying to stick together, get as low of a place as possible and the best times. Just trying to win the meets."
Tomas Arredondo (66th, 19:25.40) and Adam Hyatt (90th, 19:25.40) rounded out Carey's scorers.
"We've had some good pack runs," Kessler said. "Tuesday we had a good pack run. We need to draw our fifth and sixth runners up tighter. We got a solid nine or 10 runners. Its just a matter of convincing them they're as solid as they are."
The Blue Devils finished with a team score of 202, just edging out Cortland Maplewood, who tallied 203. Ashland Crestview won the race, beating out Colonel Crawford 132-138. Russia was third with 170.
Carey also ran a full team in the Division III Open race, finishing ninth out of 13 teams. Jon Fahl took 19th overall in 19:43.70.
When Columbian took to the starting line, coach John Kihorany wanted his guys to go out fast. They listened.
Gibson and Chris Gates ran out fast, running third and fourth going down the first hill.
"We wanted to put ourselves in a position where we were racing from the gun until the finish line," Kihorany said. "They took that to heart and went out pretty hard and good for them. It's going to help us at the end of the year."
Gates faded back a bit, but Gibson remained strong stayed at or near the front. He fell to fifth coming off the final hill, but outraced Andrew Gardner of Cincinnati St. Xavier to the finish line to take fourth.
"It was pretty good. I ran a (16:53), which is a second slower than my PR," Gibson said. "But I was leading for a good mile and a half, dropped back a few positions, but I think I ran pretty good."
"He ran a really consistent race from start to finish. That's really what you need in cross country," Kihorany said. "He's a first-year runner, so he's still trying to feel out what cross country is, and put himself in a position to race. His ceiling and his potential is far above what he's running right now.
Gates ended up 25th, crossing the line in 17:30.62. Isaiah Gilmer added a 41st-place finish in 17:50.34. As a team, the Tornadoes finished 15th in the 30-team field.
Columbian tallied 381 points. Cincinnati St. Xavier won the race, beating out Cleveland St. Ignatius, 36-65.
"Off of my watch, I think we had almost all seasons bests, or second seasons bests. Thats good for this point in the season," Kihorany said. "It's a good sign for later in the year of course. It's a good sign, I'm pretty happy."
Columbian also ran three boys in the Division III Open race. The top finisher was Tyler Mesnard in 110th place in 19:16.23.
Upper Sandusky and Fostoria ran in the Division II varsity race. Upper Sandusky took 38th in the team standings, but got a 36th overall performance from Garrett Miller, who crossed the line in 17:25.61.
"I started off too fast kind of," Miller said. "My first mile was about 5:04, 5:03. My second mile was 10:55; I wanted to get in the 16s today. Then everybody passed me, after I started off. It was too hard to catch up. I slowed down a bit, and my time showed it."
Dominic Solis also cracked the top 100 finishing 99th in 18:19.55.
Fostoria finished 42nd in the team standings. The top runner for the Redmen was Christopher Matheney in 87th (18:13.49).
In the Division III-B race, Mohawk and Lakota finished 12th and 13th respectively. Mohawk had three runners finish in the top 40. Alex Hoerig finished 31st (18:48.32), Mitch Brown took 39th (18:58.69) and Jarred Shellhouse finished 40th (18:58.78).
Lakota was topped by Luke Baker, who came in 54th, running 19:10.37.
Seneca East's B team finished 20th out of 31 teams. Brady McWilliams though ran to a 35th place finish in 18:54.10.
Hopewell-Loudon finished fourth out of 13 teams in the Division III Open race with three top 50 finishes led by Bernie Somers who took 18th overall in 19:36.52.
Nick Scaife added a 25th-place finish in 20:05.00 and Garrett Hedrick was 49th in 20:45.23.