CHILLICOTHE — Several area cross country teams and individuals took the first step towards the ultimate prize awaiting at Fortress Obetz at the OHSAA Southeast District meet on Saturday.
The Northwest Mohawks were the only Scioto County school to advance to the regional meet held at Pickerington North High School on Saturday, Oct. 31, but did so in both the boys and girls races.
With this season’s Southeast District meet at Southeastern High School, the Lady Mohawks finished third out of 21 teams in the Division III girls race.
After not fielding a full team last year, the Mohawks (130) were carried by a strong connection between their second and fifth runners, a gap of only 43 seconds.
The pack consisted of sophomore Kodi Burton (23:28), freshman Ashley Cantrell (23:43), sophomore Marie Prose (23:59), and senior Alexis Throckmorton (24:11) — the team only finishing behind Zane Trace (99) and Huntington (106).
Junior Brooke Shope led Northwest, and all area runners, by finishing 11th in 21 minutes and 14 seconds.
Coming off a personal-best last week where she paced the Mohawks to a Southern Ohio Conference championship, Shope improved her finish by 21 spots compared to the 2019 district meet.
The boys followed suit in the last race of the afternoon, also finishing third and just behind Sheridan.
Despite a strong front three runners, all placing in the top 10, the Generals edged out the Mohawks for runner-up honors — by placing their fifth runner before Northwest’s fourth and seventh runner before their fifth.
Although present in last week’s SOC meet, Northwest still managed to best Waverly by 24 points — despite a three-minute gap between its first and fifth runner.
That separation made a re-emergence on Saturday, this time slightly less than three minutes, but allowing for a slight upset.
As of the latest Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches rankings, the Mohawks were ranked 20th in the state — and the Generals are ranked 31st.
Northwest senior Landen Smith paced his team by finishing second overall in 16 minutes and 11 seconds — before a wave of Unioto High School runners.
Smith was joined by his teammates — senior Josh Shope (16:31), junior Kailan Marshall (16:38), senior Gabe Morrell (17:59), junior Mason Breech (19:01), freshman Eragorn Elkins (19:35) and sophomore Michael Wamsley (20:09) — as the Mohawks qualified for regionals for the third consecutive year.
Unioto won the race comfortably with 36 points, 56 points better than Sheridan, showing why the Shermans are ranked second in the OATCCC Division II rankings.
Portsmouth’s Charlie Putnam continued his strong freshman campaign with a ninth-place finish in 16 minutes and 45 seconds, followed by fellow Scioto County native Dutch Byrd (16:55 in 10th), a senior from Minford.
Putnam just missed on his personal-best of 16:41, recorded earlier at the Portsmouth Invitational at Earl Thomas Conley Park.
No area teams in the Division III boys or Division II girls races qualified for next week’s meet up north, but two Wheelersburg boys and two Minford girls managed to continue their seasons.
David Brown, a junior, finished among a crowd just under the 18-minute barrier — and placed 12th out of the meet’s 130 runners.
Tate Hollback, the promising freshman, joined as the second Pirate with a time of 18 minutes and 34 seconds, good for 23rd and sixth-fastest among ninth graders.
Wheelersburg finished 13th out of 17 teams with 293 points, as South Webster finished 14th with 324 points.
Minford senior Kara Dillon ran a personal-best (21:05), good for 13th, and sophomore Falcon Juniper Allen snagged one of the last individual qualifiers by finishing 26th in a time of 21 minutes and 35 seconds.
The Lady Falcons did not field a full squad, so they could not move on as a team.
Wheelersburg did, and finished 12th of out 16 teams with 303 points.
Northwest and the six county qualifiers will race again this Saturday in Pickerington, starting at 9 a.m. with the Division III boys race.
The Division III girls follow at 10 a.m., the Division II boys at noon, and finally Division II girls go at 1 p.m.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.