Area boys ready for ‘pinnacle’ at state

PHOTO BY JONATHON BIRD Columbian's Jacob Anderson leads the pack during the Old Fort cross country invite on Saturday, Oct 1, 2016. Anderson finished first in the boys competition.

Carey’s boys have a chance to rebound from a disappointing performance last week at regionals.Well, it wouldn’t be disappointing for most programs. The Blue Devils placed sixth, punching a ticket for Saturday’s state meet in Hebron.

And yet, Carey coach Dean Kessler had high expectations last week, and his team didn’t meet them.“We went to regionals with the  thought we could win it,” Kessler said. “I know when you finish sixth, it doesn’t sound like you have a chance to win it. When we looked at the splits, it was obvious half our runners went out way too fast.”Kessler said the opportunity is there for a good finish for the Blue Devils.“The boys are running extremely well right now,” Kessler said. “We have a rare combination of short speed and some endurance, (we can) hit that first mile and run people down.

Kessler said the team has the ability to improve on its 10th-place finish from a season ago. To do that, it will need another strong performance from senior Trevor Cook, who finished 11th at state a season ago.

“No doubt he’s going to try to be at least top five,” Kessler said.  “He’s fully capable, very consistent. He studies things and done his homework, I think he’s healthy and he’s confident. I’m looking for an extremely good race from him, he knows it’s it last high school race.”

Among the teammates joining Cook at state will be Tyler Leist, who placed 36th at regionals last week, and Jack Yeater, who was 41st.Three area boys will also run at state as individuals.Columbian junior Jacob Anderson will run in the Division II contest, and Hopewell-Loudon junior Tyler Reinhart-Anez and St. Wendelin senior Nick DeHaven will join Carey in the Division III race.

Saturday will mark the first trip to state for Anderson and Reinhart-Anez while DeHaven is making his second trip there in a row.

The veteran of that bunch just needs to stick with his gameplan to have success and have a shot at an All-Ohio award, St. Wendelin coach Ethan Reinhart said.

“He’s always come into a race with a good gameplan, and then he gets caught up in the emotion of the first mile and he has a tendency of burning himself up a little bit. Really going to try to focus in on controlling the first mile and then basically duplicate there on out,” Reinhart said.

“Now he’s got the experience coming into it, he’s in a much better position to go in a little more relaxed and understand what he has to do,” he said.Hopewell-Loudon coach Helen Coleman thought Reinhart-Anez had the potential to reach state back when the junior ran in junior high, but she said getting there wasn’t so much the goal as getting better.

But after Reinhart-Anez claimed the Blanchard Valley Conference individual crown and took ninth at the district meet, she said reaching the year’s final meet became very obtainable.“We knew he was kind of in the mix. That’s when it kind of became a real possibility,” Coleman said.

And now there’s a chance for another possibility.“Everyone’s dream goal is to be All-Ohio,” Coleman said. “The main thing I’d like for him to take out of this is to enjoy it and run a good race.

“I think he’ll be OK,” she said. “He knows what it’s all about, it’s just about making sure it doesn’t overwhelm him.”

Columbian coach John Kihorany said it’s kind off the same thought process for Anderson – enjoy the moment, but don’t get so caught up doing that that you forget why you’re there.“I want him to keep the mood level-headed. I think the goal is to finish as high as he can,” Kihorany said.

“For him, you want to run the same race you’ve been running,” he said. “You want to be excited but not be a spectator in your own race. You want to be happy to be there, but you don’t want to be a spectator in your own race.”

Anderson is the first TC boy to reach state since 2013, and getting a Tornado there is always a boost to the program, Kihorany said.

“That’s the pinnacle, that’s the top. We’ve had some individuals go down, and when individuals go down, it sets the tone,” he said. “It’s a big piece of the puzzle for the program. Success breeds success.”