Any negative feelings the Lancaster boys cross country team might have had about its finish this past week were nowhere to be found Saturday.
Adam Wise finished second, and the Golden Gales placed three runners in the top 10 en route to a runner-up finish in their Division I district meet at Watkins Memorial High School.
“I was very happy,” Gales coach Jeff Koksal said. “I was happy with the way they paced themselves. I was happy with how they raced through the muck and didn’t let it bother them and how they finished like champions.”
Despite finishing second to Pickerington North in this past week’s Ohio Capital Conference-Ohio Division meet, the Gales had goals of winning the conference. Their other goal — reaching the state meet — seems in good shape after a stellar run Saturday.
Wise, as usual, paced the Gales. About halfway through the race, he was in fourth and looked to be fading from the top three, but Wise closed well and crossed the line in 16 minutes, 15 seconds as the race’s runner-up.
“He ran a nearly perfect race,” Koksal said. “There’s still about a two-minute stretch in the race where he’s letting it get away from him a bit. But he is so talented. He’s so strong physically and faster than people give him credit for. If we can get him in a position where he’s on the leader, he can win races like this. He made a lot of progress in that direction today.”
Lancaster’s Stephen Sparks finished sixth (16:40), and Nick Weaver was seventh (16:48). After suffering an injury in the OCC-Ohio race, Jon Urbine recovered to finish 24th in 17:32. Robbie Harris was one spot behind him with a time of 17:33.
“He’s such a talented kid,” Koksal said of Urbine. “It’s pretty easy to do the math there. If you take him out of there and put in another guy 15 or so points back, we’re not second. So absolutely it’s big. He really stepped up and ran great today.”
In Division III, Liberty Union cruised to its fourth consecutive district title. Jeff Hanson finished second (17:07) to pace the Lions in the morning’s worst weather conditions.
Colton Roth (fifth, 17:27), Jacob Motts (sixth, 17:29) and Mikey Cuschleg (seventh, 17:30) followed to lead the Lions’ dominance. Constant rain Friday night into Saturday morning made the course muddy and slick.
“It was a sloppy mess,” Roth said. “Coach (Renee Mangette) wanted us to go out harder than we usually do, because it was hard to pass people in the woods.”
The Lions accomplished that by putting its top pack in the top 10 and celebrated another district championship. They are one week away from a fourth consecutive berth at the state meet.
“It means a lot to me, personally,” Hanson said. “We’ve had some good teams these past four years.”
In the other Division III race, Fairfield Christian and Fisher Catholic both qualified for regionals by placing third and fourth, respectively. Alex Hoover led the Knights by finishing sixth in 18:24 and was followed by Jacob Thompson (11th, 18:30), Eric Hoover (17th, 19:01), Jordan Kellett (20th, 19:07) and Nate Howes (21st, 19:12).
In only their third year of existence, the Knights have built a regional-qualifying team.
“Last year, we just had four or five guys,” Alex Hoover said. “This being my senior year, (getting to regionals) is a dream come true. It’s only our third year, so that’s huge.”
Cawood Boone led Fisher Catholic by finishing ninth in 18:28 and was followed by Jared Faulkner (12th, 18:39), Clayton Walters (15th, 18:58), Brett Householder (26th, 19:39) and Grant Smith (28th, 19:50).
Bloom-Carroll’s Jeremy Cuckler qualified to regionals in Division II by placing seventh in 17:57.