HEBRON – Andrew Jordan was shooting for the top five, but instead found himself in state title contention.
“I was still right there with the top guys, and I said, ‘no way I’m up there,'” the Watkins Memorial junior said. In a sprint to the finish, he finished third out of 142 runners in 15:40 at the Division I state cross country meet. He was just five and a half seconds behind champion Michael Vitucci of Cincinnati St. Xavier and two seconds back of runnerup Colin Burdette from Hilliard Davidson.
Jordan finished 35th in the state last year, but had higher aspirations after a dominant season.
“To put myself on the podium, I needed to be in the front pack at the second mile,” he said. “I knew I could get on the podium, and I wanted to get top five. This was all because of the coaches. They really had me ready for this. My goal next year is to win.”
Coach John Jarvis was not surprised at Jordan’s performance.
“We knew he could be top 10, and when you’re in the lead pack, anything can happen,” he said. “We kind of put all of our eggs in one basket for the state, and it worked. He’s a strong finisher.”
Another Warrior, sophomore Samantha Hyme, also became a Division I All-Ohioan with her 21st-place finish in 18:45.
“I went out a little too fast and struggled in the middle,” she said of her first state meet. “It definitely helped that it was the last race of the season, so I could go all out and have a second chance at the end. Towards the end, it was downhill and had the wind at your back. It’s a good start for the next two years.”
“All-Ohio was her goal coming in, and she found out she could run with the best,” Jarvis said.
Also placing 21st to make All-Ohio, in the Division II boys race, was Licking Valley junior Griffin Butler. He ran a 16:24 and joined older sister Mackenzie as a Panther All-Ohioan.
“At the two-mile mark, my coach (Don Mealick) told me, ‘keep pushing. Now is the time to go,'” he said. “I lost some ground and wasn’t sure where I was. I tried to catch the guy in front of me and couldn’t quite do it.
“But I’m very excited, even though I went a little slower because of the weather and didn’t get the time I wanted,” Butler added. “The wind was awful and every part of the course was very sloppy, especially after the second mile.”
In his final race, Granville senior Ryan Black led the Blue Aces to a solid sixth-place finish out of 16 teams with 187 points. He finished 38th in 16:42, with junior teammate Joe Pappas right behind in 41st (16:44). Sophomore Jonny Lukins was 56th in 17:00, senior Kyle VanNess 77th in 17:12 and junior Tyler Keenan 84th in 17:17.
“They moved up a lot,” coach Chrisi Rogerson said. “After the first 400 meters, they were way back. They moved up through the pack, which is hard to do in a race like this. But they knew they had to do it, and they did. It was impressive.”
“At the first mile, I figured I would be around 5:10, but it was 5:03,” Black said. “The whole field went out really fast. I really didn’t want to be running that fast, but tried to push through it. It was tough conditions, with the wind and soft ground. It was fun, but painful, too.”
Black was especially impressed with Pappas.
“He passed 15 guys just to get to me,” he said. “He finished right behind me. That was pretty cool.”
Speaking of fun, Granville Christian Academy senior Lauren Keiser had plenty of it in her final race. She placed 41st in the Division III girls race in 19:58, much of it run with a smile on her face.
“Whatever happened today, I was going to enjoy it,” she said. “I didn’t run the time I wanted, but that’s OK. I got here for the second time, so I’ve been blessed.”