The Wauseon boys ran away with the Northwest Ohio Athletic League cross country championship Saturday in the league meet held in Delta.
On the girls side, Liberty Center did the same with Wauseon finishing second and Archbold third.
The Indian boys won with a score of 27. Archbold was second at 62 and Liberty Center third at 77.
Wauseon’s top five all finished in the top 12.
“I thought we did phenomenal,” said longtime head coach Joe Allen of his boys’ performance. “You always want to move up a place or two here or there. And to be honest as a coach you always want to go a little bit faster. We did what we needed to do today. This is something they put on their little papers as a goal — way back in May. And they’ve worked all summer and then all fall long. It was awesome to watch them achieve that goal.”
The Indians were led by Braden Vernot, winning the boys race with a time of 16:01.76 and finishing 21 seconds ahead of runner-up Joshuah Taylor of Bryan (16:22.32). Vernot lost to Taylor as recently as Sept. 26 in a meet at Liberty Center.
“The Bryan kid and him, all year long have gone back and forth,” Allen said. “Interestingly enough, as they have gone back and forth between wins, they tend to gap each other. But I thought today might be a little bit closer than it was. I thought Braden ran a really smart race. He had a good day. Hopefully that can continue for the next three to four weeks.”
Wauseon went four, five and six as Jack Callan took fourth (16:40.77), Hunter Wasnich fifth (17:19.21) and Aidan Pena sixth (17:19.23). Additionally, Carter Nofziger finished 11th (18:05.17) for the Indians.
Leading the Archbold boys were Brady Johns who was ninth (17:45.92) and Aden McCarty 10th (17:58.94). Mason Conway finished 16th (18:27.65) for the Blue Streaks, Austin Roth 23rd (19:02.16) and Landon Stamm 24th (19:06.22).
Nickolas Sherick of Delta paced the Panthers with a 19th place finish, running the race in 18:34.85. Delta could not produce a full team in either race.
Anderson Tipping came in at 20th (18:35.28) and Carson LeRoux 26th (19:18.55) for Evergreen. For Swanton, Tyler Boyd took 33rd (19:42.27) and Devin Nijakowski 35th (19:55.41).
The Liberty Center girls had six in the top 10 for a team score of 21. Wauseon was second at 59 and Archbold third at 77.
The Tigers were led by Hope Oelkrug who won with a time of 19:05.49.
In a surprise for the Indians, Serena Mathews placed sixth (20:15.73) to finish ahead of teammate Grace Rhoades at seventh (20:17.45) — a likely favorite heading into the meet.
However, Allen says he will push Rhoades and the rest of the team to push forward as they look to the postseason.
“Grace didn’t have her best day of the year. Which, it’s unfortunate, but again, we look ahead. Okay, we got knocked down today it’s time to get back up and continue to fight from here,” he said.
Maggie Duden was 10th (20:43.82) for the Indians, Natasha Miller 12th (21:12.97) and Bailey McGuire 28th (22:45.35).
Archbold senior Kylie Sauder finished off her league career with a runner-up finish to Oelkrug. She finished the race in 19:16.49.
The Streaks’ top five each placed in the top 25.
“Those three girls: Hope, Grace and Kylie, have kind of set themselves apart,” said Archbold coach Rachel Kinsman of the girls race. “But, you know you have to race each time. It was good to see her (Sauder) not worry about it and just run. That top three was the goal, but second is even better.
“Our league is outstanding. We know that each time we come in here (the league race) that we have to be on. Right now, on the girls side, it is really tough. Wauseon, Liberty, us — I mean it is three really good teams. It was good for Kylie to get second. I think that was a little bit of a surprise. But a good surprise, because she works hard all the time.”
Kalyn Baker added a 17th place (21:48.46) for the Streaks. Brittney Ramirez 20th (21:53.86), Regan Ramirez 22nd (21:56.86) and Karley Ramirez 23rd (22:08.32).
“I thought our team effort was exactly what we needed for today,” explained Kinsman. “We have a great group of seniors, but they’re gonna be missed next year. But they know how to compete. And they did that this meet. Going into tournament, again, they’ve been there; they’ve done it. I think that will be on our side.”
Jenna Hallett was 18th (21:50.04) for Delta.
For Evergreen, Kennedy Keller finished 19th (21:50.53), Kayla Gleckler 25th (22:14.28) and Deanna Hoffman 26th (22:14.8).
Swanton was led by Ellie Hartford who took 33rd (23:03) and Ashley Keaton 37th (23:30.47).
District cross country meets are this Saturday.
Wauseon will be at the Division II district at Ottawa. The Swanton boys are in the D-II district in Findlay.
The teams from Delta and Evergreen, as well as the Swanton girls, will be at the D-III Findlay District. Archbold is also at Ottawa, competing in the D-III race.
NWOAL XC Championships
Wauseon 27, Archbold 62, Liberty Center 77, Bryan 82, Patrick Henry 111, Evergreen 159, Swanton 174.
Liberty Center 21, Wauseon 59, Archbold 77, Patrick Henry 125, Evergreen 126, Bryan 135.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010