Mount Gilead’s boys’ team finished their cross country season in style by finishing fifth in the Division III state meet and boasting two All-Ohioans in the process.
In tallying 186 points, the Indians edged Smithville by one point to take fifth place in the race held at Hebron’s National Trail Raceway. Fort Loramie won the meet with 98 points.
Leading the way for the Indians were Austin Hallabrin, who concluded his cross country career with MG by placing sixth in 16:00.6, and sophomore Casey White, who took 15th in 16:16.7. Hallabrin, who was competing in his third state meet, noted that the pace was fast on a pleasant Saturday morning.
“I’d definitely say it was a championship race,” he said. “I tried my best to get out with the lead pack, but dropped to the second one.”
The Indian senior noted that it wasn’t a completely smooth race for him.
“I really felt the second mile, I struggled mentally,” he said. “I try to stay behind someone and zone out, but it got to the point where the pain was so intense, I had to realize what was going on.”
Still, he was able to finish strongly and achieve his best finish at the state meet.
“My goal was to get sixth or better,” he said. “I kind of just wanted to put out a performance I wouldn’t regret. I never expected to do better than 10th. I’m more of a middle-distance runner and long distance is more of a struggle. Ultimately, this gives me confidence for track.”
White was competing in the state meet for the first time after not getting out of regionals last year. Simply getting this far made him happy, but his performance made things even better.
“My race was very good,” he said. “It was the best race of my life. Last year, my goal for this year was to make it out of regionals. It’s very exciting for me. This was one of the hardest races for me, especially the last mile.”
With Hallabrin graduating after this school year, White will be looked upon to help lead the MG team back to the state meet — a challenge he is looking forward to.
“It’s definitely great to have experience and being All-Ohio with Austin,” he said. “He’s definitely teaching me the steps to be a good leader.”
Liam Dennis was next across the finish line for the Indians, finishing 61st in 16:59.9. Nick Weiss was 82nd in 17:12.7 and Kyle White took 146th in 18:01.9. Also, Brandon Stevens ran 152nd in 18:06.1 and Trevor Ball placed 154th in 18:08.2.
Division III Girls
In a fast race, Northmor took 13th place in the Division III girls’ race with 314 points, edging Russia on a sixth-runner tiebreaker, while Mount Gilead was 16th with 347.
Minster won the team title with an amazing 38 points, while Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan ensured the pace would be very quick, leading virtually the entire way and winning in 18:01.8.
For Northmor, Kristen Duryea was the top runner, placing 53rd in 19:49.7. “It was very intense,” she said of the race.
“There were lots of really fast runners. I think everyone on our team ran their hearts out.”
Duryea, a senior, also ran in the state meet last year when the Knights took 14th place.
“I think the expectations were higher this year,” she said. “It was a little different experience being with this team. The freshmen worked really hard.”
Duryea battled injuries throughout the season, but was able to finish the season strong — a fact that made her happy.
“I felt pretty good,” she said. “I think the race went as well as it could have. I’ve been injured this year and my hip was bothering me, but I was happy with how I ran. I got back almost to where I was last year.”
Duryea’s sister, Jessica, finished 90th in 20:26.2, while Samantha Peters took 99th in 20:35.4. Maddie Jordan ran 109th in 20:47.5 and Julianna Ditullio finished 138th in 21:34.9. Also, Maria Lee was 144th in 21:48.3 and Brooke Bennett finished 168th in 22:43.7.
Baylee Hack was the top local finisher in the race, leading Mount Gilead with a 43rd-place finish in 19:40.8.
“It was a very fast-paced race,” she said. “If you didn’t go out fast, you didn’t compete to the best of your ability.”
As a freshman competing in her first high school state meet, Hack noted that running her usual pace didn’t equal finishing with her usual result.
“I think I ran the pace I normally run, but didn’t get to where I needed to,” she said.
However, she enjoyed the competition, especially being able to run in the state meet with the rest of her team.
“It was really nice to be here,” she said. “I’m proud of myself and my team.”
Hannah Bush placed 76th in 20:08.7 and Darcy Picker ran 111th in 20:51.1 for the Indians. Madison Fitzpatrick claimed 140th in 21:40.9, while Bridgette Millisor took 147th in 21:55.6. Also, Micah James was 153rd in 22:07.1 and Makayla Weaver claimed 175th in 23:09.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS