SW’s Volpe, Bellevue lead area runners

Carey’s Wentz, Rams’ Shasteen also qualify for next week’s state meet

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO St. Wendelin’s Sophia Volpe competes in the Division III girls race at Saturday’s regional meet at Hedges-Boyer Park.

Bellevue coach Lee Booze figured his team had a really good chance of reaching state Saturday, but just how good a chance surprised him.

Two of his runners finished in the top 15 and another two wound up in the top 20 as the Lady Red captured the Division II regional runner-up trophy.

That piece of hardware symbolizes Bellevue’s first team trip to state since the 1999 squad took fourth there.

“I thought we had a good chance of getting out. I think we were confident all week. We had a good race last week at districts, so I think our goal was: team, all or nothing,” Booze said.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy,” he said. “Lexington’s a lock, and we knew that. There were a lot of question marks with the schools coming from the west because we don’t run against them very much; we haven’t run against them since the Carnival. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Lexington ran away with the team title with 36 points, with Bellevue scoring 91 for second. Defiance upended St. Marys Memorial 106-158 for third.

The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to state.Two Lady Red were assured of getting there early, with Lauren Turner (20:10.83) and Taylor Waldecker (20:15.08) running 13th and 14th.

Liz Ish (20:29.73) and Madelyn Verhoff (20:33.79) weren’t far behind, claiming 19th and 20th, while Lindsey Spurlock crossed the line 50th (21:40.8).

Madison Raifsnider (58th, 22:00.82) and Casey Santoro (65th, 22:26.63) also ran for Bellevue.

This will mark Turner’s third trip to state in a row. The senior ran there as an individual in her sophomore and junior seasons.

“It means a lot,” Turner said. “It’s been 17 years since the Lady Red have got to run as a team down at the state meet, so we came into here with our heads high and being really hopeful to making it out. It’s my senior year, that was the biggest goal, and I’m super glad that we got second and we get a chance to represent at the state meet.”

Waldecker echoed those sentiments.

“It was really emotional (when we found out we qualified). I was really happy that we all made it,” she said. “My goal was just to make it as a team, but individually just made it better. I’m really glad that we made it all together.”

And in search of more rewards.

“The girls, they like chasing trophies. They do well at invites and that, but one with a regional meet on it, that’ll be pretty cool,” Booze said. “I think the big thing now that we’ve made it is kind of take this day and enjoy it, but then really think about trying to do the best we can; not just getting there, but resetting our mind on Monday on how well we can do.

“But we’ll enjoy this day first,” he said.

Bellevue will be joined at state by Upper Sandusky’s Madelyn Shasteen, who ran 12th (20:03.82) to earn her first trip to the season’s final meet.“I was impressed with the results. I was just shooting for top 16. As long as I made it, I was going to be content,” Shasteen said.

“My time wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be to make it, but it felt like it ran fast.”Columbian ended 12th with 237 points. Hailey Cortez’s 25th (20:41.92) led TC, with Violet Hoffman finishing 35th (20:59.71).

The area will also send two individual qualifiers from Division III, with St. Wendelin’s Sophia Volpe and Carey’s Keely Wentz advancing.

Minster rolled past Pettisville 41-131 for the team title, with Holgate (177), Columbus Grove (195), St. Henry (197), Liberty-Benton (226) and Liberty Center (245) rounding out the state team qualifiers.

Carey came in 12th (311) in the 22-team field, and Hopewell-Loudon upended Seneca East 397-415 for 17th.The top seven teams and top 28 individuals earned state berths.

That was plenty of room for Volpe.The senior, competing in her first year of cross country, crossed the line third in 19:15.15 to reach state.

“I really didn’t have any expectations. I always say it’s whatever God gives me is whatever I’m going to run. That’s kind of what I came in and did today,” Volpe said. “I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to run, because in past years I’ve never run before. It’s a neat experience.”

Volpe played volleyball throughout high school, but switched to cross country this year to help prepare for running track in college.Though a track runner in the spring, Volpe said cross country proved to be quite different.

“Cross country is just a totally different kind of beast than track. I didn’t know what I was going to do, I was just going to do whatever God gave me,” she said. “It’s a lot different than running around on a flat oval, I’ll tell you that.”Including irregular ways.“They said that there were deer out on the course. I was hoping that I wouldn’t run into a deer, honestly,” Volpe said. “We all huddled (before the race) and they were, like, ‘Just FYI, if you see a deer, they’ve been located on the course, so just try to run around them.’ We’re, like, ‘OK, great.'”

Wentz, meanwhile, earned her return trip to state by taking 26th in 20:09.51.

“I thought I was going to run a lot faster than what I did, so I think I had a pretty off day, even though I still kind of did good. It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Wentz, who later added getting back to state is still exciting.

“This feels like the first time going to state again,” she said. “I feel just as good as the first time. It’s amazing.”

Destiny DeFeo added a 33rd (20:29.33) for Carey.

Renae Kapelka’s 63rd (21:23.12) paced H-L, and Ashley Brickner came in 87th (22:13.98).Seneca East got a 39th from Hailey King (20:44.05) and a 104th from Kaitlyn Cook (22:44.52).Mohawk’s Ann Stillberger ended 68th (21:34.93) and Lakota’s Julia Baker finished 85th (22:02.62).