Entering Saturday with back-to-back regional runner-up finishes since being moved to Hedges-Boyer Park from the Youngstown site, the New London boys used a 47-second difference from top runner Dominic Albaugh to No. 7-runner Caleb Good to finally earn that elusive Division III regional title in cold, rainy conditions.
It marked the third regional championship all-time for state-ranked No. 11 New London, which also took gold in 1994 and 2006. By placing four runners among the top 32 (the top 28 individual spots advance), the Wildcats totaled 129 points to win the regional title ahead of Van Wert Lincolnview (143).
Albaugh, a junior, ran a time of 16:54.3 to finish 19th overall, leading seven Wildcats in the top 66 places.
The top eight teams in Div. III advanced on to next Saturday’s state meet at Hebron’s National Trail Raceway.
“Five of my seven guys had personal bests, so we had a great day today,” said Wildcats coach Keith Landis, whose team will be going to state for the third straight year. “Dominic Albaugh has been working real hard and it paid off today.
“The best part is I’ve had three No. 1 guys the last three weeks,” he added. “I’m thrilled with how hard these guys have worked.”
Saturday was Albaugh’s turn up front after Curtis Joppeck paced the group at the Firelands Conference meet and Carson Coey led the way at districts. Coey was 22nd (16:54.7) Saturday, while Joppeck was 29th (17:03.3), followed by Tyler Twining in 32nd (17:12.4), Cole Kropka in 58th (17:33.7), Mitchell Joppeck in 60th (17:36.5) and Good in 66th (17:41.4).
“When we were younger, we’d always take turns in workouts, and we’d push each other each day,” Albaugh said. “When it comes to regionals, you can’t really have any excuses. Even if the conditions aren’t ideal, it’s our job to go out there and run as hard as we can. It was a bit slippery, but nothing we couldn’t handle.”
Albaugh’s plan has gone smoothly.
“I’ve been working towards having a good end of the year peak, so I was happy how today went,” Albaugh said. “I could see that we needed somebody to step up and I’m glad I could fill that spot.”
As for next week?
“We want to win,” Albaugh said. “We want to do the best we can to make our town proud and represent the Firelands Conference well.”
The FC will also have its league champion going to state as St. Paul’s Noah Avendano made it out for the second consecutive year.
Avendano, a senior, was ninth overall with a time of 16:41.81.
“I knew I wanted to start out fast, because everyone likes to start out quick. Today, I ran the fastest first-mile that I’ve run all season,” said Avendano, who ran a personal-best 16:32 to win the district championship.
St. Paul’s school record is 16:23, something Avendano is shooting for at state.
“The goal is to make All-Ohio,” he said. “But I’d really love to break that record as well.”
The Flyers’ Zack Stine was 57th (17:33.3).
In the girls race, New London was seventh (263 points) to earn the second-to-last state-qualifying spot. Gabrielle Osterland was 19th overall out of 195 runners in a time of 19:58.70 to set the tone for the Wildcats.
The top eight teams and individuals in the top 32 advanced to state.
Kaylin Williams was 35th (20:31.30) for state-ranked No. 16 New London, and Savannah Shaver (20:59.59) was 45th. Also for the Wildcats, Abigail Good (22:17.69) was 121st, followed by Dana Gustely (131st, 22:28.95), Grace Crawshaw (142nd, 22:52.26) and Esther Schmidt (149th, 23:02.62).
Western Reserve’s top finisher was Ashlyn Barnhart (53rd, 21:06.66). Brooke Perkins was 76th (21:28.20), Aliyah Perez (21:31.83) was 80th and McKenna Woodruff (21:32.37) was 84th for the Roughriders, who placed 10th as a team.
St. Paul’s top finisher was Dana Sumpter (22:08.49) in 111th. Cheyene Null (22:32.99) was 133rd, Madelyn McCall (22:55.95) was 145th and Claire Ceccoli (23:20.51) was 153rd.
Norwalk’s Vazquez earns state bid in Div. I
After a disappointing junior season, the 2018 Fall campaign has been one of redemption for Norwalk senior Robert Vazquez.
As a sophomore, Vazquez and his entire squad qualified in Div. II. But a year ago, the shift to Div. I made the going a little tougher.
“I peaked way too soon last year and was running in the mid-17s at district time, so I never even got to regionals,” Vazquez said. “But this year, my best friend Mitchell Sommers got me to train during the summer, which I hadn’t done before. He’s a big reason I’m going back to state this year.”
Vazquez, needing a top 12 spot, grabbed the No. 11 spot with a run of 16:32.94.
“It was really cold out there,” Vazquez said. “I was around 14th or so during my second mile, then when we hit the last hill I was in 11th until we got back up to the top where I slipped to 14th again.
“I have to give a big shout out to Tiffin’s coach though, he told me if I wanted to run with [Columbian’s] Caden (Groves) I needed to go,” he added. “So I was like, ‘Senior year, I got this. It’s either all or nothing being my last race,’ so I made the best of it.”
Groves was seventh at 16:15.9.
“He’s one of my good friends that I run with,” said Vazquez of Groves.
Vazquez is aiming for a top 25 spot to make All-Ohio, but also wants a shot at the school record of 15:47.
“That’s going to be really hard, being that I’ve been consistent in the 16:40-range the last few weeks,” said Vazquez, whose current record is 16:16.41. “But anything in the 15s would do.”
The Truckers' Kyler Kromer was 18th (16:46.1). Christopher Mohr and Summers, were 43rd (17:25.5) and 44th (17:25.8), respectively.
The Truckers were seventh out of the eight teams with 140 points.
“We are extremely excited for Bobby’s chance to run next week at state,” Norwalk coach Drew Karnehm said. “He has been working hard all season, and it’s paying off for him. This has been four years in the making, and there’s no better way to end his senior year than with a trip to Hebron.”
As for Kromer, Karnehm said he will be back.
“Kyler’s performance was exceptional,” he said. “We knew he was on the bubble coming in and was hoping to make the cut, but it just wasn’t in the cards today.
“Being the fastest freshmen in the region says a lot about his gift as a runner,” he added. “It will be exciting to see what happens over the course of his career.”
Edison boys, Lesniak advance in Div. II
Edison’s Daniel Lambert and Tyler Coon were tired of running alone the past two seasons at the Div. II state meet.
So even despite taking of their business with finishes in the top 12, no one was happier than them to see the Chargers pop up at No. 3 in the team standings.
Lambert was fifth in time of 16:17.5, followed by Coon in eight (16:32.1). Senior Jonathan Hrivnak was 16th (17:00.7) to pace five other Edison runners in the top 75. The Chargers’ 94 points put them only behind Shelby (32 points) and Lexington (64 points).
“We’ve been working for that since June 4th,” Coon said. “Our goal was to go down as a team. Everyone did their job today, like Jon wanted to beat Van Wert’s No. 1 guy and he did that. Then one of our freshmen Aidan Anderson was our No. 5 runner today.”
Lambert and Coon weren’t worried about the fact they didn’t set new PRs.
“It’s not really about time any more, it’s all about place,” Lambert said. “We have unfinished business with the state meet. We made it down there the last two years, but didn’t run the kind of race we wanted either time, so this is the year we want to make that happen.”
Sophomore Abby Lesniak will join in for a second consecutive year, after running sixth in a new career-best time of 19:02.8.
“It was perfect weather,” said Lesniak, who chased a pack of five runners most of Saturday’s run. “I was working hard to stay with the group in front of me, but then something happened and they just pulled away.
“But I stayed focused and never gave up after that,” she added. “It’s been a long season, and to finally PR at regionals is fantastic. Hopefully, that means I can get in the 18s next week.”
Edison’s Isabel Chasney was 21st (20:14.1), missing a qualifying spot by nine spots. The Chargers were seventh (186), needing a top three finish.