Seneca East, Hopewell-Loudon boys take titles

GALION – One got a very familiar result. The other, something historic. Either way, a plaque and a another week of practice were the rewards.

Seneca East used a 1-2-3 finish to catapult itself to the title in one Division III race Saturday at Amanns Reservoir while Hopewell-Loudon gained the other championship in what is to believed to be the first boys cross country district title in school history.

“We knew it was a good possibility, it was just going to depend on what the guys did today and how well they performed, and obviously they did a very nice job,” H-L coach Helen Coleman said. “I guess I won’t call it a surprise. It was something we knew could happen, but we knew we had to make it happen.”

The Chieftains turned back Woodmore 66-70 for their crown, with Elmwood ending third with 74 points. Old Fort claimed the fourth and final regional team berth with 123 points.

Hopewell-Loudon’s championship came despite the absence of regular No. 1 runner Chet Swartzmiller, who watched from the sidelines.

Junior Patric Gase filled as the team’s top runner Saturday, clocking in fourth in 17:48.52.

“He just stepped up. To run fourth overall and be our No. 1 runner today, he did an amazing job. Alex [Wood] ran great today, too,” Coleman said. “Really, all of them stepped up, but those two really stuck out. They just took it out and did what they needed to do today.”

Even if the team had not advanced, Gase would have had plenty of support at the regional since two other teammates finished in the top 16, the cutoff for individuals to move on.

Alex Wood ran seventh (17:54.02) for H-L and Marcus Ardner claimed 14th (18:16.63).

“It was awesome. I don’t know to really explain it,” Gase said. “I’m just glad we did really good and moved up.”

Ryan Depinet’s 18th (18:20.36) and Dylan Napier’s 23rd (18:39.96) completed the scoring for H-L, with Bernie Somers (25th, 18:44.78) and Drew Kurtz (35th, 19:17.88) also running.

“I think (the title) means a lot. It’ll give cross country a bigger name at our school,” Gase said.

Old Fort’s Tito Lopez finished 16th (18:17.25) and teammate Brad Bannister ran 19th (18:28.92). Elliott Philmore added a 22nd (18:39.96), Cole Manasian finished 30th (19:09.67) and Jacob Clark ended 36th (19:19.28).

Lakota ended sixth in the team standings with 180 points, Calvert took 10th (273), St. Wendelin finished 12th (293), Mohawk came in 13th (307) and New Riegel took 15th (417).

Two other area runners qualified for the regional out of that race.

St. Wendelin’s Nick DeHaven captured ninth (18:03.94) and Lakota’s Luke Baker claimed 15th (18:16.92).

Davis Mason backed up Baker by running 32nd (19:12.98) for Lakota, and St. Wendelin also got a 56th from Greg Ricker (20:11.51).

Calvert got a 17th from Jon Brodman (18:17.68) and a 52nd from Shane Boehler (19:59.95).

Mohawk’s Chris Koehler took 43rd (19:39.9) and Alex Dundore finished 59th (20:26.97).

Caleb Welly finished 76th (21:15.09) for New Riegel and Brandon Arbogast took 79th (21:20.49).

While that race was filled with area runners, the other Division III race was not. It did, however, have plenty of low-scoring Tigers.

Jared Stockmaster (16:47.37), Wes Pipher (16:48.72) and Carson Pipher (16:59.32) captured the first three spots to fuel Seneca East’s 40-54 championship victory over New London.

“It was nice see. Obviously, Jared won it, but Wes Pipher, who’s worked the last couple weeks really hard in practice, is really starting to come on at the right time of the year. We’re going to need that, and hopefully his brother [Carson] comes right with him,” Seneca East coach Doug Mason said. “If we can keep them two locked onto Jared and they can keep that score as low as possible with the top three, and hopefully we can get that next tier of guys to come up [we’ll do well].”

Michael Szabo added a 16th (18:02.6) for the Tigers and Bryce Watson took 18th (18:11.88) to complete Seneca East’s scoring.

Robby Schaffer (30th, 18:49.71) and Brady McWilliams (37th, 19:01.28) also ran for the Tigers who, like everyone in the day’s six races, had to contend with constant rain and a very muddy course.

The conditions proved challenging, Mason said.

“I thought Wes Pipher ran a real nice race, and Carson wasn’t comfortable; there was something going on, but he just guts it out. They’re tough kids,” he said.

“Some of our guys are good at running in the mud, some of them are not, and you see that in all of these races,” he said. “Our top three ran well. The other guys have been working hard in practice and we’re just waiting for them to burst through.”

Buckeye Central finished 13th in the same race with 355 points, led by Stone Wurm’s 46th (19:18.51) and Wyatt Kisor’s 65th (20:29.6).

Two other area runners also gained regional berths in the Division II race.

Domonic Solis crossed the line seventh in 17:15.53 and Garrett Miller took 12th in 17:29 to lead Upper Sandusky to ninth (211).

The Rams ran in the second race of the day, so the course was not quite as muddy as it was later in the day. Still, Upper Sandusky coach Ed Arnold said he enjoyed watching his two regional qualifiers slog their way around the course.

“I was glad there was a little bit of foul weather for these guys. These two guys have been running for a long time, and they’re strong runners and they know how to race in foul conditions,” he said. “We’ve run in a lot of muddy stuff before, they always run good when it’s muddy so there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of mud to make it more exciting and fun.”

Solis agreed.

“All it was was an obstacle,” he said of the mud. “All you’ve got to do is find out where it’s at and avoid the spots. That’s all you’ve got to do.”