Saturday morning marked a special day for the Minford Falcons cross country team, as well as other teams from across the area.
The Minford Invitational featured 12 teams from four different conferences across the state, including River Valley from Caledonia in Marion County. The Vikings of River Valley were impressive overall, winning first place overall in the junior high girls and high school boys competition.
Waverly also had success, as the Tigers finished first in the junior high boys and high school girls competition.
The meet finished as a positive for several schools and coaches, including Minford head coach Ann Marie Allen, who felt the Minford Invitational provided a glimpse at what cross country has become for local teams.
“It was a great turnout because we’ve had more teams then I think we’ve ever had,” Allen said. “I think in this area, cross country is up and coming. We’ve got a lot of great coaches in the area, a lot of them have ran at Shawnee State, so it’s like they’re pulling from the community.”
Minford junior runner Matthew Harris was also impressed with how the meet transpired for his school. “I was pretty proud of all the people that came out to this meet,” Harris said. “12 teams at a D3 school, getting that many people to come out is pretty surprising by me and I’m hoping it grows next year.”
Harris was one of several local athletes who excelled in the races in what was a hot, humid day.
“This was pretty hard on me, and I’m pretty sure it was for the rest of the runners,” Harris said. “We were all hurting pretty bad, because we’ll talk during the race and stuff, and the heat was definitely getting to us.”
Harris placed second overall in the high school boys race with a time of 17:23. Portsmouth junior runner Aiden Kammler, who finished third overall in the high school boys race at 17:35, agreed with Harris’ assessment.
“It was really hot, so it was a pretty good race for the heat,” Kammler said. “It’s just really tiring, you train during the heat, so you expect to do okay, but it’s different during a race.”
For Allen, it’s almost become the norm to face these types of temperatures late in the season. “The past few years we’ve bought cross country hoodies, and we’ve barely had to wear them,” Allen said. “So we’ve almost got used to this for cross country.”
Beaver Eastern junior Evan Leist finished first overall in the high school boys race, with a finish of 17:12. Several other SOC schools had runners finish in the top ten: sophomore Aidan Judd of Waverly finished fourth, freshman Landen Smith of Northwest finished sixth, and sophomore Phillip Evory and junior Trevor Pendrod of Waverly finished seventh and eighth respectively.”
In the girls race, River Valley senior Kenzie Baker finished in first place with a time of 21:17. Several athletes from Scioto County schools placed in the top ten as well.
Portsmouth had two runners achieve the feat, with senior Lynsey Shipley finishing fifth with a time of 23:34 and senior Anne Marie Raies finishing sixth with a time of 23:45.
South Webster also had two runners in the mix, as senior Kayleigh Blevins finished seventh with a finish of 23:57, and senior Grace Raison who finished tenth at 25:07.
Wheelersburg senior Lyndlee Willis finished eighth with a time of 24:31.
Waverly was most impressive, though, as the Tigers had three runners place inside the top ten. Senior Hannah Goodman placed second with a time of 22:28, senior Leta Heigley finished third at 23:05, and sophomore Sarah Crabtree finished ninth with a time of 24:48.
Tigers head coach Linda McAllister liked what she saw from her team on the day. “I thought they did really well in this heat,” McAllister said. “We’re still kind of midseason, we’re high mileage right now, and we’re a little tired. But I thought we did well.”
McAllister is hoping Waverly can continue their success throughout the rest of the season. “It’s a great team,” McAllister said. “They keep working hard and hopefully we’ll reap the benefits at the end of the season.”
Allen also liked what she saw from her kids during the meet. “Our course is hilly, and it’s hot, and it’s hard,” Allen said. “So I’m super proud of them, and everyone ran really well.”
Several cross country teams are set to participate in the annual Shawnee State Bear Run on Sept. 27. Minford will travel to Alexander High School on Oct. 4 for their next meet.
For complete match results, visit: https://www.baumspage.com/cc/ccevent.php?peventid=278&table=C
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT