By ROB HAMILTON
Two Morrow County boys finished their cross country seasons as All-Ohioans, as they placed in the top 25 of the Division III state meet on Saturday.
In the race, hosted by National Trail Raceway, Hebron, Mount Gilead’s Austin Hallabrin finished 17th in 16:22.7, while Cardington’s Jacob Long claimed 19th place in 16:25.
Hallabrin noted that it took him a while to really get going in the race. “Well, I got here and was feeling pumped,” he said. “But I had mental burnout and couldn’t push myself. I kicked in with a half mile to go, but I was a little far behind.”
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s results, Hallabrin was in 41st place after one mile and 36th after two before making up a lot of places down the stretch. The junior runner was hoping to finish higher, but noted he wasn’t overly disappointed due to having a strong finish on what wasn’t his best day.
“I’m satisfied because I don’t think I was prepared mentally,” he said. “I couldn’t manage to push myself up. I was trying to stay in striking distance of the front pack.”
Hallabrin, who now has been an All-Ohioan in two straight cross country seasons, is looking forward to the track season, adding that the middle-distance races he runs there are more his forte.
Long had similar feelings about his race. While he got off to a faster start, holding 11th place after the opening mile, he struggled to keep up with the leaders, falling to 18th after two miles and finishing 19th.
“Honestly, as a senior, that was pretty rough,” he said after earning his third All-Ohio finish in four trips to the state meet. “After the first mile, I was pretty tight. Over here, I was feeling good with the front pack, but when they changed gears, I couldn’t go. It was rough. I’m not sure where I finished, but it should have been better.”
Despite the disappointments of the day, Long found it hard to complain about too much during the course of his four years of running CC for the Pirates, during which time he repeatedly set new school records (currently 15:39.62).
“Overall, cross country was a blast,” he said. “I had a lot of success. I set my goals really high from day one.”
Long’s teammate, Josh Queener also ran in the state meet. As a senior, the first-time state competitor took 76th place in 17:15.4.
In the Division III girls’ race, Northmor finished 14th as a team, tabbing 319 points. It was the team’s first trip to the state meet as a full squad since 2010, a fact which pleased head coach Mark Yaussy.
“It’s been four years since we’ve had a team here,” he said. “It’s always great to finish your season at the state meet. To finish here is a big accomplishment. Hopefully, this will start the ball rolling where we have consecutive state appearances.”
Kristen Duryea paced Northmor by finishing 40th in 19:53.1. Samantha Peters placed 88th in 20:54.7 and Isabelle Ditullio took 101st in 21:14.6. Selena Cortez ran 109th in 21:39, while Reanne McDonald took 117th in 22:12.2, Brooke Bennett placed 118th in 22:12.3 and Sydney Jennette claimed 125th in 22:33.8.
While Yaussy will graduate Ditullio and McDonald, he returns five of his top seven next year and is expecting some high-quality junior high runners to bolster the ranks, giving him high hopes for more trips to state.
“We have three juniors, one sophomore and one freshmen coming back,” he said. “And we’ll have some very good incoming freshmen who will certainly help. Every year, this is the expectation for Northmor cross country — to finish the year at state.”
Mount Gilead’s Jenna Shipman also competed in the Division III girls’ race. The senior took 52nd place in 20:07.3 in her final cross country race as an Indian.
“I just wanted to leave it all on the course because this was my last cross country race ever unless I run in college,” she said. “My family and a bunch of people from school came to support me.”
Shipman has run in the state meet all four of her high school years, but this was her first trip as an individual. She competed with her entire team the previous three years, making this meet a lot different for her.
“It felt really different,” she said. “I like it better with the team, but I’m glad Austin Hallabrin also made it to state and Coach (Dennis) West did a good job preparing us.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS