The streets leading to Piketon High School last Saturday morning were a bit busier than usual.
That’s because the Redstreaks were hosting the Piketon Invitational cross country meet, and there were plenty of participants.
“We had 39 teams this year, it’s the most we’ve ever had,” Piketon cross country head coach Michele Coreno said. “Teams like to come here.”
The flat, fast course at Piketon allows for runners to have some of their best times of the season. It’s safe to say that runners enjoy the course, too, as evident by the number of athletes who signed up this year.
“We had over 1,000 sign up,” Coreno said. “I think we ended up with around 900 running. Last year, we had about 700 or so running, so we upped even from last year.”
In addition to a great turnout overall for the meet, Coreno’s team put on a great performance as well. Senior Austin Taylor (17:26) finished 27th overall in the boys race, and senior Jacob Nichols (17:34) placed 30th in the same race. Junior Alex Blanton (17:59) came in 49th.
Scioto County schools were well represented in the race, too.
Portsmouth junior Aiden Kammler (16:29) finished sixth after finishing third in the Minford Invitational the weekend prior. His teammate, junior Daniel Clark (17:12), placed 21st.
Minford junior Matthew Harris (16:53) played 11th, and freshman Dutch Byrd (17:39) finished 37th. Northwest freshman Landen Smith (17:09) finished in 18th, and freshman Josh Shope (17:45) came in at 40th overall.
Rounding out the SOC schools, Waverly sophomore Aidan Judd (16:28) finished fourth, and junior Trevor Penrod (17:37) wound up in 33rd. Beaver Eastern junior Evan Leist (16:35) finished seventh.
The girls race featured several SOC athletes who placed in the top 50 overall.
Waverly senior Hannah Goodman (20:42) placed 22nd, and senior Leta Heigley (22:06) finished 46th. Oak Hill senior Bailey Ward (22:01) finished 44th.
Northwest head coach Adam Schroeder, a former cross country runner at Shawnee State, liked what he saw from his Mohawks.
“It was a big step up for our kids today,” Schroeder said. “Every single kid that raced today had a PR. So I was really happy with that. Best times of the year for sure.”
Valley head coach Dale Foster was impressed with his team, too.
“We had a lot of personal records set,” Foster said. “It’s a flat course, so a lot of the kids did really well.”
Not only were teams from the area able to post great times, they were also able to get a look at some of the best cross country programs in southern Ohio.
“It’s nice for a chance to get to see all the powerhouses,” Schroeder said. “I feel like we’re Mohawks on the move, and we’re getting there. We’re building a program, and it’s nice to see what we need to do to get there.”
As a whole, cross country has grown considerably in Scioto County and the SOC.
Foster reflected on what it was like for Valley at first, saying “when I first started coaching, it was like six years ago, we had two kids. We now have 22 kids, high school and middle school, and we’re growing.”
The growth is indicative of not only increased interest at Valley, but in the area as well. Foster expects the sport to continue to gain attention in years to come.
“I think it’s going to keep growing more and more,” Foster said. “The interest in southern Ohio, it’s got to be there. Up north, it’s huge. They have teams of 20, 30, 40 kids. Ours will grow, the SOC especially. We have some great coaches that really encourage kids to come out and run.”
Coreno feels that more fans are being drawn to the sport, too.
“I think you’re starting to see more of an appreciation from the fans and people who maybe weren’t a part of it before,” Coreno said. “I think they’re starting to appreciate the sport more.”
The turnout was great for her team and her school, but Coreno says she couldn’t do it alone.
“I could not do this meet if it weren’t for my helpers,” Coreno said. “I have Greg Sheperd, who coached here for years. He helps set up the course, he does so much for us.”
Coreno added several other names. “Lisa Ferguson was my assistant coach the first year here, Katrina Queen is my assistant, I couldn’t do it without them,” Coreno said. “My parents and alumni that come and help are amazing. My athletic directors Libby Crothers and Keith Dettwiller.”
The meet went a long way to prepare teams for the postseason, as the SOC meet takes place on Oct. 14 and the district meet is scheduled for Oct. 21.
For complete event results, visit: https://www.baumspage.com/cc/ccevent.php?peventid=125&table=C
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT