MINFORD — Simply put, and although Wheelersburg and/or Waverly may have something to say about it in two-and-a-half weeks, but the veteran Northwest boys and the up-and-coming South Webster girls got the first look-sees in advance of the Southern Ohio Conference championship meet.
That’s because the Mohawk men and the Lady Jeeps, on an ideal Saturday morning, captured the team titles of the annual Minford Invitational cross country meet —held on the campus of Minford Local Schools and encircling its entire outdoor athletic facilities.
Although impacted by significant graduation losses, including its top two runners and 2020 all-Ohioans Landen Smith and Josh Shope, Northwest still has Kailan Marshall and Mason Breech —and they landed a 1-2 punch in leading the Mohawks to the boys team crown.
The senior Marshall, in particular, crushed the 68-man field — dashing the 5K in a fast 17 minutes and three seconds to win, and actually bettering Breech by a full 58 seconds.
And, Breech wasn’t bad either —as his 18 minutes and one tick topped Oak Hill’s top-two runners, third-place Jevi Mesegure (18:17) and fourth-place Walker Fowble (18:39).
Thanks to mainly Marshall and Breech, Northwest edged the Oaks by five points (41-46) —as its top five scorers all placed inside the top-16 and all seven runners inside the top-25.
Michael Wamsley was 11th in 19:40, Eragorn Elkins 14th in 19:55, and Boston Wolfe 16th in 20:05 to round out the Mohawks’ first five — with Federico Lentini 18th in 20:07, Brady Ruby 25th in 21:21, and Evan Amburgey 46th in 23:29.
Marshall, Wamsley, Elkins and Breech all return for the Mohawks — which have qualified for the Division II state cross country meet in back-to-back years (2019 and 2020).
The Oaks’ other scorers placed ninth, 13th and 21st — and their other placers 23rd and 26th.
Northwest, Oak Hill, South Webster, West, Green, Valley, Western and host Minford all represented the SOC on Saturday —while Wheelersburg competed at the 50th annual Patty Forgey Invitational at the University of Rio Grande.
While Wheelersburg was getting a first glance at Rio Grande’s 5K course —home once again to this season’s Southeast District meets in late October — the other SOC schools sans Waverly wanted a partial preview of the conference meet, which will be held on the same Minford trek on Oct. 16.
South Webster, with a 141 team score, was the only other SOC boys bunch to field five runners — which is the minimum number needed to post a team tally.
Caden Conley claimed seventh for the Jeeps, crossing in 19 minutes and 17 seconds —and immediately trailing Zane Trace’s Wyatt Vick (5th in 18:45) and River Valley’s Cody Wooten (6th in 18:51).
Between Conley and Wamsley were Zane Trace’s Garrett Carver (8th in 19:19), Oak Hill’s Connor Clark (9th in 19:26) and River Valley’s Ethan Schultz (10th in 19:35) to round out the boys top-10.
Zane Trace (73) was third and River Valley (82) fourth, as Piketon — with a 156 score — was the sixth and final full boys team.
West and Green had four runners apiece, Valley and Minford each fielded three, and Western sported a pair.
Between Northwest’s Elkins and Wolfe was Green’s Lethan Poe in 15th (20:03).
On the girls side, South Webster was 16 points better than runner-up River Valley (35-51) —as the Lady Jeeps took three of the top eight spots, four of the top-13 and five of the top-18.
That despite the Lady Raiders recording the race runner-up and third-place performer —although their next four scorers placed 20th, 21st, 23rd and 24th.
Marley Kreischer (4th in 22:33) and Kate Mantell (5th in 22:51) made it a fourth-place and fifth-place finish respectively for the Lady Jeeps —as only 22 seconds separated them.
Ali Newman was eighth in 23:10, Macie Rhoads 13th in 24:11, and Ciara Jones 18th in 25:48 for South Webster —as its sixth runner was Kennedy Murphy in 38th.
Zane Trace’s Marie Souther — in exactly 20 minutes — was the race winner, and led the Lady Pioneers’ 78-point effort.
Green (88) and Oak Hill (89) had enough runners for team scores as well —as Green garnered six scores and Oak Hill five.
Northwest sported three runners, while West, Valley and host Minford each had one.
Of those seven, Minford’s Juniper Allen was sixth in 23:02, West’s Kodi Burton was 12th in 24:10, and Northwest’s Ashley Cantrell was 14th in 24:38.
There were 41 runners in the girls high school race.
A complete list of results can be found at www.baumspage.com.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved