Mohawk girls, Calvert’s Smith take district titles

GALION – It was far from a perfect day – plenty of rain, lots of mud, a missed turn.

The results are hard to argue with, though.

Mohawk slogged its way around a water-soaked course at Amanns Reservoir for a title, Hopewell-Loudon held off Elmwood 102-106 for second and St. Wendelin overcame a sub-par running day to earn the fourth and final regional team berth.

Meanwhile, Calvert senior Olivia Smith initially missed the final turn and had to retrace her steps, going from leading the race to battling to claim second in one of the Division III races Saturday at the district meet.

“I didn’t know [that was the turn],” said a smiling Smith after finishing in 20:29.89. “I saw it, it was really muddy, it looked like almost it was blocked off because it was so narrow, so I went around. And then everyone said ‘go the other way,’ so I went back.”

Smith ran up front for most of the race and had a few steps on Van Buren’s Rachell Resnik and Woodmore’s Courtney Burner as they neared the final turn – an opening between two cordoned off areas no wider than a home’s doorway.

While Smith missed the turn, Resnik and Burner slipped through behind her.

Resnik got the win (20:25.88), but Smith was able to overtake Burner (20:30.37).

Mohawk had no such glaring missteps, but coach Brock Cleveland said his Warriors were a little disappointed individually, despite capturing the title by an 84-102 margin over Hopewell-Loudon.

He said the district championship was a first for the girls cross country team, and the first in cross country for the school since the boys accomplished the feat in 1987.

“I think we felt like we had a really good chance to win. That was our goal. That’s been one of our goals from the beginning,” Cleveland said. “I think the girls were a little disappointed; they didn’t run great, and I don’t know if they weren’t in it mentally today because of the weather or whatever.

“But we’re moving on. We accomplished one of our goals and we need to move on. I’m a mixture of emotions,” he said. “I’m really happy because this is our first district championship ever for girls [cross country], and it’s only our second in school history, I think.”

Freshman Shauna Leeth led the champions by running eighth in 21:39.14.

Leeth was happy she would have advanced as an individual – the top 16 qualified for the regional – even if the team had not made it, but she said her finish and time were sub-par.

“I was hoping to stay up front more but the mud really got to me and I kind of fell behind,” Leeth said. “I had to slow down a few times to not fall.”

Classmate McKenzie Richardson added a 16th (22:14.47), junior Haley Leeth ran 22nd (22:34.34), freshman Beth Dundore clocked in 26th (22:43.46) and junior Kayla Risner finished 32nd (23:07.89) to round out Mohawk’s scorers.

Brooke Theis (42nd, 23.38.74) and Kaela Kozel (77th, 26:50.17) also ran for the Warriors.

“This was a huge day for them. I’m really proud of them. We have to regroup and hopefully, if all goes well, give ourselves a chance to make it out next week,” said Cleveland, who added Haley Leeth played a huge role in that.

“She was back in the pack and I told them ‘we need to get moving’ and she was one of the girls that responded, she was one of the girls that really started to push forward and move forward and I really think she’s the one who helped us today,” he said.

Hopewell-Loudon coach Paul Jones said he got the same kind of effort from Lauren Shaver, who finished 27th (22:48.56) for the runner-up Chieftains.

“I’d have to say Lauren Shaver had a tremendous race today. She’s usually our fifth runner and I think she was fourth [among H-L runners] today and not very far behind the [the team’s] third-place girl,” he said. “She really stepped up today.

“Very muddy course, and it was a tough district, too. I thought, looking at it coming in, there were probably six teams that had shots of moving on, and to get up to that runner-up spot was a goal,” Jones said. “I didn’t know if we could do it, but they just ran a very nice race today and ignored the conditions and were able to pull out a second place.”

Leah Reinhart led the charge for Chieftains by capturing sixth in 21:32.56, with Lizzie Erlanger finishing 20th (22:30.15) and Keely Hoover taking 24th (22:40.02). Morgan Brant’s 44th (23:54.62) rounded out H-L’s scorers.

St. Wendelin gained its first regional team berth in coach Cindra Baker’s nine-year tenure by turning away Calvert 115-128 for the final spot. Baker her team’s struggles on the course had her doubting the Mohawks would make it, right up until officials released the results.

“They struggled, they’re still struggling. Just very happy it turned out in our favor,” she said. “We’re going to come back and do the best we can.

“We’re excited. This is a first for me with the girls team making it. I’m just happy for the girls,” Baker said. “They’re the ones who put in the hard work. They’ve worked this season, they deserve a spot.”

Victoria Volpe crossed the line 11th (21:43.89) for the Mohawks, Jocelyn Reinhart took 18th (22:24.5), Sara Goddard claimed 25th (22:43.12), Karin Goddard finished 31st (23:04.17) and Lauren Meyers came in 54th (24:38.26).

Morgan Smith backed up Olivia Smith by running 17th (22:22.11) for Calvert.

Lakota took ninth with 208 points and New Riegel ended 11th (292).

Cariss Reese advanced for Lakota by finishing fourth in 20:44.22.

It was the senior’s first and only time on the course, and despite the rain and mud, she said she enjoyed. Of course, earning her fourth trip to the regional meet didn’t hurt.

“I think it made it a lot more fun. The course seems like it’s a pretty good course, but it seems to kind of repeat; boring. So I think the mud made it more fun,” she said. “The turns and the hills were a little bit scary. I was kind of scared I was going to slide down [a hill] so I backed way off, but I’m sure everyone had the same problem.”

“I’m pretty excited. Since I made it to regional every other year, I wanted to continue that, so I’m pretty excited about it,” Reese said.

One other area girl qualified for the regional, with Old Fort’s Kayla Garza capturing seventh in 21:36.9. The Stockaders did not field a full team.

Area teams also competed in two other district races at the course, but no local teams or runners advanced from them.

Seneca East finished 11th (280) in the other Division III meet, led by Alyssa England’s 46th (24:17.21) and Kirsten Camp’s 50th (24:35.17).

Buckeye Central and Bettsville did not field full teams in that same meet. Lizbeth Figeuroa finished 21st (22:46.47) for Buckeye Central and Bettsville’s Alexis Davis ended 77th (30:12.79).

Upper Sandusky ran in the Division II meet, ending 11th (289). Olivia Thompson finished 27th (21:11.59) for the Rams and Mackenzie Myers took 64th (23:41.22).