BEAVER — For the Northwest Mohawks and Lady Mohawks, they trended onward —and upward —on Saturday at Eastern High School.
That’s because the Northwest cross country clubs completed a historic sweep at the annual Southern Ohio Conference championship meet, as — for the first time in school history — both the boys and girls took home twin team titles.
In fact, per Northwest cross country coach Adam Schroeder, it is the first time in any dual sport that the Mohawk men AND women captured championships of the same SOC meet.
“We were looking at the banners the other day. It’s nice that we can go and put the number ‘20’ on there for both guys and girls,” he said.
The Northwest boys were actually defending their team championship, while the girls were aiming to unseat Wheelersburg.
Both Mohawk units accomplished just that, and each won their respective races by at least 24 points.
Last season, Northwest —in its fifth full year returned as a program — dethroned five-time defending conference champion Waverly, winning its first cross country conference crown since 1985.
This year, with the boys locking up three of the top four spots — and with four among the top eight and all seven runners within the top 20 —the Mohawks put some social distance between themselves and the Tigers, as the difference was a mere five points (25 for Northwest and 30 for Waverly) a year ago.
Northwest rolled up a team score of 31 on Saturday, compared to 55 for Waverly.
The Tigers too had at least six runners inside the top 20, but sixth-place and sophomore Mitch Green was their highest individual placer.
The Tigers took the ninth, 12th, 13th, 15th and 19th-place spots as well, as the Mohawks’ final three runners crossed in the 16th, 17th and 20th-place positions.
But the key, like last season, was Northwest sweeping the top-two places —almost making it a 1-2-3 finish.
Northwest senior Landen Smith successfully defended his individual race championship, completing the fast 5K course in 15 minutes and 47 seconds — and running in the sunshine at Eastern after a chilly and blustery morning last fall at Waverly’s Bristol Park .
Smith ran a 16:13 last season, which fellow senior and teammate Josh Shope (16:09) beat by four seconds Saturday — succeeding in returning as the SOC boys runner-up.
Kailan Marshall, a junior, made it three-for-four for Northwest in the top four — at 16 minutes and 16 seconds.
The only individual to prevent a top-three Northwest finish was Minford senior Dutch Byrd, who crossed the finish line in 16:12.
“I told them (Smith, Shope and Marshall) they had a chance to go 1-2-3. It didn’t quite happen and there are some great runners, but it’s nice to know that every week we have three of the best teammates anywhere in the state. I would put those three against almost any other team,” said Schroeder. “Landen continues to take care of business. His eye is on Saturday, Nov. 7 (state cross country meet), like it’s been all year. It’s fun to know too that Josh Shope just needs to run his race and take care of business. It stinks that Josh would be the best runner in the area without his teammate (Smith), but I don’t think either of them would be as good without each other. And Kailin is finally realizing that he has some speed and is getting there.”
Another Northwest senior, Gabe Morrell, made it four Mohawks in the top eight — as he was eighth with a personal-best time of 17 minutes and 41 seconds.
Morrell, who has battled injuries all season after seriously hurting his hip in the regional meet a year ago, made a nice comeback to compete on Saturday — said Schroeder.
Although, Morrell now has a partially-torn Achilles’ tendon to tangle with in his final postseason.
The Mohawks’ other three runners were freshman Eragorn Elkins (16th in 18:52), junior Mason Breech (17th in 18:52) and sophomore Michael Wamsley (20th in 19:13), as only Elkins’ score actually counted towards the team total.
Behind Northwest and Waverly, the other team scores were within 35 points of each other —and included Minford (3rd with 115), Eastern (4th with 131), Wheelersburg (5th with 135), South Webster (6th with 141), Symmes Valley (7th with 144) and Oak Hill (8th with 15o).
A minimum of five runners is necessary for a team score.
In addition to Smith (1st in 15:47), Shope (2nd in 16:09), Byrd (3rd in 16:12), Marshall (4th in 16:16) and Green (6th in 16:49), Eastern freshman Teagan Werner (5th in 16:37) and Wheelersburg junior David Brown (7th in 17:47) earned all-SOC first-team honors.
For Byrd, his time broke the Falcons’ quarter-century old school record by four seconds, which was set by all-Ohioan Brandon Dodridge in 1995.
Morrell (8th in 17:41) paced the all-league second team, which also included Waverly junior Jack Monroe (9th in 17:55), Wheelersburg freshman Tate Hollback (10th in 18:01), Oak Hill senior Landon Hines (11th in 18:03), Waverly senior Calob Ramirez (12th in 18:14), Waverly junior Aidan Kelly (13th in 18:17) and South Webster junior Caden Conley (18:19).
There were 62 runners in the boys high school race.
“It’s nice to bring home some of those all-SOC plaques. The kids that ran today have worked hard all year,” said Schroeder. “It’s nice to see that we put the summer in and that we’re actually getting to race championship races.”
While the boys, which won one of two Division II Southeast District championships last season and advanced to the state meet for the first time in program history, have become accustomed to the postseason spotlight — the Northwest girls are racing into similar territory.
All five Lady Mohawk scorers placed among the top 14 and amounted all-SOC honors, but on the team front, finished 28 points ahead of runner-up Wheelersburg.
Northwest’s team score was a 33, while Wheelersburg (61) edged out Waverly (68) and South Webster (72) for runner-up honors.
Green finished fifth of the five teams with a 102.
Brooke Shope, a junior, paced the Lady Mohawks with a third-place and personal-record performance —crossing the football-field finish line in 20 minutes and 31 seconds.
Northwest sophomore Kodi Burton (6th in 21:39) finished in three places behind Shope, while freshman Ashley Cantrell (11th in 23:20), junior Alexis Throckmorton (12th in 23:20) and sophomore Marie Prose (14th in 23:44) posted the Lady Mohawks’ other three scores.
Schroeder said his Lady Mohawks had high hopes, or so they believed, and in doing so it paid dividends on the course.
Their only other runner was sophomore Akira Ramey (32nd in 26:49).
“The girls have been awesome the past couple of weeks. They see that there’s hope, and when there is hope, their training and workouts both are better. They know they can do it. They knew it was a possibility. Having that hope was huge for them this year,” said the coach. “And it was stiff competition today. There are some great teams this year in the SOC. It was fun to see them step up and come to a championship meet and they know they can compete. That’s huge for them going forward.”
Between the all-SOC first-teamers Shope and Burton, Minford mustered a pair of all-leaguers —sophomore Juniper Allen (4th in 21:16) and senior Kara Dillon (5th in 21:16).
Amanda Salmons of Wheelersburg was seventh in 21:47 for the final first-team spot, as Lady Pirates’ freshman Kylie Marsh (21:48) managed eighth in a second behind Salmons — and was the first second-team honoree.
Waverly junior Olivia Cisco captured the individual race championship in 19 minutes and 29 seconds, as last season’s champion —junior Abby Cochenour of host Eastern —was the runner-up in 20:16.
In addition to Marsh, Cantrell, Throckmorton and Prose, South Webster senior Rylee Hagen (9th in 22:41), Waverly sophomore Julia Clark (10th in 23:05) and South Webster sophomore Ali Newman (13th in 23:41) notched all-SOC second squad.
There were 46 runners in the girls high school race.
All Southeast District Division II and III teams and individuals will compete in Saturday’s (Oct. 24) district meet, which has changed locations this year to Southeastern High School near Chillicothe —and away from the University of Rio Grande.
Thus, it’s a new direction for Northwest — as it shifts gears and training trending from Eastern to Southeastern.
“We’ve never ran there before, but it’s not as hilly as Rio Grande. It’s a fast course, so we expect Landen Smith to run a fast time but more importantly be in good competition and go wire-to-wire with somebody,” said Schroeder. “For our kids, they don’t care where we are racing. They just love the opportunity. We’re going to be ready for the challenge.”
Please see www.baumspage.com for a complete district meet schedule, as well as www.tristateracer.com for complete SOC meet results.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved