TIFFIN — It was a record-setting performance from the Wauseon cross country program on Saturday at the Tiffin Regional at Hedges-Boyer Park, with both the boys and girls teams qualifying for state for the first time in school history.
The boys won their meet by defeating Shelby by 18, 63-81. The girls earned the last qualifying spot in Division II, placing fourth with a score of 141.
The Wauseon boys will be heading to state for the first time since 2004. It will be since 2014 for the girls.
In the D-II boys race, the Indians had four of their top four runners finish in the top 15. Braden Vernot was the regional champion and finished the race in 16:16.5.
“The boys have had an awesome season,” said Wauseon head coach Joe Allen. “They are really clicking and running with amazing confidence. The team set their goals on making it to state for the second time in school history and they have remained focused on that goal. They look forward to the challenge of running against the best in the state to see how they rank this upcoming weekend. Braden Vernot’s winning the regional champion crown shows the determination and heart of the young man.”
Jack Callan came in at third with a time of 16:36.1, Hunter Wasnich ninth (16:47.5), and Aidan Pena 15th 17:00. Carter Nofziger was 52nd (17:50.7) for the Indians.
“I thought Jack Callan, Hunter Wasnich, and Aidan Pena put up some very solid performances,” explained Allen. “Then watching Carter Nofziger pass people in the last mile demonstrates his competitive spirit. These young men worked hard for this regional championship, and I look forward to seeing what they can do this week at the state meet.”
Grace Rhoades took 10th for the Wauseon girls, running the race in 19:28. Maggie Duden was 21st (20:23), Serena Mathews 36th (21:16.2), Alona Mahnke 41st (21:32.9) and Natalie Kuntz 69th (22:48.5).
“I felt like their performance to get to the state meet was just a gritty one. Anybody who watched the race could tell we were not at our best on Saturday. They truly put together a scrappy performance to make it happen,” said Allen of the girls team. “I felt like Grace Rhoades bounced back after two tough weeks of competition to become an individual state qualifier. I cannot say enough about how Maggie Duden was just a solid presence for this team the past week or so and how she raced on Saturday. Serena Mathews and Alona Mahnke’s gutsy performances were a real key to us advancing and exhibits the competitive spirit of these girls. Then to have Natalie Kuntz, as a first year runner, step-up to fill Natasha (Miller’s) role this week was incredibly important.”
In Division III Archbold had its boys team place 12th (303) and their girls ninth (289).
The Blue Streak girls got a state qualifying performance from Kylie Sauder. She finished fourth with a time of 18:56.5.
Their next highest finisher was Brittney Ramirez who came in 47th (20:54.3).
Fayette had a qualifier on the boys side in Division III. Quinn Mitchell placed 19th (16:59.1) for the Eagles to advance.
The State Cross Country Championships will be held this Saturday at the course at Fortress Obetz in Obetz just south of Columbus. The Division III races are at 9 a.m. for the boys and 10 a.m. for the girls, while in Division II the boys will race at noon and the girls 1 p.m.
D-II Team Scores
Wauseon 63, Shelby 81, Van Wert 102, Huron 105, Lima Shawnee 121, Liberty-Benton 127, Lexington 142, Defiance 145, Genoa 235, Upper Sandusky 246, Perkins 260.
Lexington 26, Galion 124, Lima Shawnee 130, Wauseon 141, Shelby 150, Milan Edison 153, Van Wert 162, Celina 173, Ottawa-Glandorf 195, Liberty-Benton 200, Eastwood 208, Upper Sandusky 337.