Cross Country: Elks ‘stick together’ to claim regional title

TROY – Six of the top nine cross country teams in the Division I girls state rankings navigated the course at the regional championships in Troy on Saturday. The Centerville Elks entered ranked No. 3.

They left as regional champions. Centerville edged Lakota West by three points, 90-93, to claim the D-I regional title and advance to next week’s state championships. It was a triumphant return after missing last season’s meet after a rare misstep at district.

“This is kind of like a mini-state meet for us,” Centerville coach David Dobson said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge. We felt like we did things to be prepared and focused on things we felt we could do.”

Dobson’s advice to his team this season was the same at the beginning as it is now as it nears the end.

“Just to work with the team and for the team,” said sophomore Mia Robillard, who finished third in 18:28.1 to lead the Elks. “Stick together and that will help share the workload.”

Robillard, senior Emma Bucher (sixth) and senior Nikki Jindal (11th) did the heavy lifting up front, and solid runs from sophomore Brooke Strobel, sophomore Alayna Skidmore, freshman Arej Salem and sophomore Peri Rhoads propelled the Elks to the regional title.

“It’s so nice to be able to feed off one another and work together rather than fight through the race alone,” Bucher said of running with Robillard in the lead pack. “It’s a nice cherry on top being able to have a season in the first place, then having this opportunity is really nice.”

Lebanon finished fourth and Beavercreek fifth to also qualify for state. Lebanon senior Faith Duncan was runner-up in 18:17.3, finishing 6.2 seconds behind winner Carly Spletzer of Lakota East. Springboro sophomore Cara Mooney qualified as an individual.

Also in D-I, Beavercreek’s boys finished third to qualify as did Bellbrook senior Takumi Ford.

In the girls D-II meet, Oakwood junior Grace Hartman highlighted the Jills' 1-2-3 finish with sophomore Bella Butler and senior Hannah Moulton. Hartman won in 18:22.8 for an 18.1-second victory. The Jills edged Waynesville for the regional title by four points, 43-47.

“It’s really encouraging. We’ve got an incredibly well-rounded team,” Hartman said. “We’re so tight and training has been going incredibly. … I think we’re all ready to run and show Ohio what we’ve got.”

Hartman, Butler and Moulton were joined by sophomore Abby Snodgrass, sophomore Katy Butler, freshman Gabriella Kimbrough and junior Caterina Tian-Svobodny.

In addition to Waynesville, Eaton claimed the third spot and final spot by one point over Tippecanoe. Greenville senior Isabelle Rammel and Tipp junior Annie Sinning advanced as individuals.

Carroll senior Kevin Agnew won the D-II boys title in 15:50.8 to beat Waynesville senior Kaden Harvey by 10.3 seconds. The Patriots finished second as a team to also advance.

“My plan was to sit as long as I could to be confident and take the lead,” Agnew said. "The first two miles felt really good. We came up the hill after the second mile I took the lead and just kind of hammered from there pushing around turns.

“Our goal was to win (as a team), but our main focus was just getting to state. We did that so we’re happy.”

Waynesville claimed the title with Harvey, senior Colin Amato, senior Trevor Camp, junior Caden Adams, freshman Jonas King, senior Denver Johnson and junior Jackson Berger.

Eaton advanced two individuals with senior Jack Bortel and Kolby Hamilton.

In D-III boys, Anna and Botkins both qualified as teams. Fort Loramie juniors Colten Gasson and Colin Gasson, Dayton Christian junior Seth Thompson, Jackson Center sophomore Kellen Reichert, Covington senior Bennett Welborn and Newton senior Owen Via advanced as individuals.

In D-III girls, Fort Loramie, Anna and Versailles advanced as teams. Botkins senior Emma Koenig and freshman Brittany Arnold and Russia senior Becca Seger qualified as individuals.

The state championships are held Saturday at Fortress Obetz, a multi-purpose sports and entertainment complex. The State of Ohio and Franklin County Departments of Health are limiting attendance to 1,500 per division. Attendance is limited to parents and immediate family.

About the Author