COLUMBUS GROVE — Coming into Saturday’s Columbus Grove Invitational, the Columbus Grove cross country program figured it wouldn’t be an easy task to nab team titles.
However, the Columbus Grove girls’ pack of runners proved to be too much for the competition in the Small School Division, as it notched the team title quite easily, defeating second-place Carey, 44-119. Hopewell-Loudon finished third (133), Lincolnview was fourth (154), while Botkins (164) rounded out the top five teams. There were 15 teams that scored in that division.
On the boys side, Columbus Grove finished fifth out of 22 full teams in the Small School Division. Carey edged out Lincolnview for the team title, 89-90. Minster finished third (111), while Crestview came in fourth (165).
Alyssa Ellerbrock led Columbus Grove, finishing fourth overall in 19 minutes, 54 seconds. Teammate Taylor Ellerbrock finished fifth in 20:03. Crestview’s Ashley Brown came on strong toward the end of the 5,000-meter race to win in 19:34.
“The girls ran very well today,” Columbus Grove girls coach Jason Jay said. “The top five (runners) performed pretty much about where I was hoping they would perform later in the season. So, to have my top five under 21:15, surpasses anything I had planned for right now. We had 12 girls who ran and they all ran great today.”
In the boys Small School Division, Ottoville’s Brendan Siefker got out to an early lead and pulled away for the win in 15:45. Carey’s Trevor Cook came in second (15:56). Nick DeHaven, from Fostoria St. Wendelin, was third (16:25).
Siefker, who placed fourth at last year’s Division III state meet as a sophomore, wanted to get out fast Saturday and take control of the race.
“I tend to always have a pretty fast first mile,” Siefker said. “Maybe I need to slow down a little bit and have some more for the end (of the race). But, it worked for me today. I did it last week, too (win at Delphos St. John’s Blue Jay Invite). I went out fast and tried to hold them off. I think I won by about 10 seconds. And that was about the gap I had at the end of the race.”
Siefker also juggles playing soccer, along with running cross country, during the fall season.
“Both of my coaches are really good about it,” Siefker said. “So, if it’s a day before a soccer game, I’ll probably go to soccer, because we do our scouting stuff and things like that. But, a day before a cross country meet, like if it’s Friday, I go to cross country and do my pre-race workout.”
In the girls Large School Division, Minster’s pack of runners was too much as it captured the team crown, defeating second-place Liberty-Benton 25-84. St. Marys had the next best local finish, coming in sixth (147). There were 18 teams in the race.
Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan was never challenged, winning the Large School Division race in dominant fashion in a personal-best time of 18:12. Minster’s Emma Watcke was a distant second (19:05). L-B’s Meghan Bartel was third (19:08), while St. Marys’ Kelly Wilker came in fourth (19:16).
Sreenan, a junior, is a two-time state-placer. On Saturday, once she took the lead, she never let up.
“I got a little nervous (early on), because I got stuck in the pack and I was trying to weave in and out,” Sreenan said. “But once I got out in front, I had to take off into a sprint to make up that little bit of time. And I felt really good the rest of the race.”
In the boys Large School Division, Wauseon won the team title, defeating runner-up Anna, 49-108. Findlay (125), Anthony Wayne (125) and Fairview (135) rounded out the top five teams. There were 23 teams that scored in that division. Wauseon’s Kyle Vernot won the race in 16:27.
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