OBETZ — With both their teams qualifying for state in the same year for the first time ever, Wauseon cross country made the experience count on Saturday in the OHSAA State Championships at Fortress Obetz.
Wauseon’s boys placed seventh in Division II with a score of 207. The girls took 15th with a 337 total.
Woodridge won the D-II boys team title with a 113 score, while the Lexington girls took home the crown — also with a 113.
Leading the boys was senior Braden Vernot who placed ninth, finishing the race with a time of 16:02.1. The placement earned him All-Ohio honors.
Vernot, who was making his second straight trip to state, was satisfied with his result.
“Last year, I didn’t really know what to expect so I ended up getting 125th. Which I wasn’t too happy with. I just used that to train hard over the summer and the offseason. So I was happy with my finish (this year),” Vernot said.
Knowing what to expect somewhat, although this year’s race was at a new site, he was able to dramatically change his result from 2019.
“This year I really just tried to stay relaxed at the start,” said Vernot. “And not feel pressured or get scared if I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Because I knew there was plenty of race to move up if I wasn’t where I wanted to be.”
Vernot also said he and his fellow teammates were pleased with their top 10 team finish.
“We didn’t necessarily know how high we could finish. But we definitely wanted to come here and try and place. We weren’t just happy to be here. We put in the work, so we wanted to have a strong end to the season,” he said.
The next highest finisher for the Indians was Jack Callan who placed 36th (16:40.7). Hunter Wasnich was 51st (16:56.3), Aidan Pena 86th (17:21.2) and Carter Nofziger 118th (17:49.6).
Sophomore Grace Rhoades earned All-Ohio honors for the Wauseon girls, placing 16th with a time of 19:00.2.
“I’m really excited for my place,” said Rhoades of her race. “The last couple meets have been kind of shaky for me. So I was really happy with my results. And I’m glad we can compete today — especially with COVID. So I’m just kind of glad for the opportunity.”
It was a sunny and warm day with temperatures in the 70s at race time — abnormal for early November. But those elements actually worked in Rhoades’ favor.
“I actually prefer running in the heat, so I felt good. I’m not a fan of the cold,” said Rhoades.
She also upped her placement from a season ago, where she finished 40th.
“I’m proud of myself this season. It’s been hard with COVID. I did what I set out to do — which was place (at state),” Rhoades said.
The Indians’ next best was Serena Mathews at 90th (20:36.6). Maggie Duden came in at 112th (21:08.1) for Wauseon.
In the Division III races in the morning, a boy and girl from Fulton County were in action.
Archbold senior Kylie Sauder was All-Ohio with a 17th place finish. She finished with a time 19:18.7.
“So proud of Kylie,” exclaimed her head coach, Rachel Kinsman. “For the third straight year she earned All-Ohio honors with her 17th place finish in a very tough Division III state meet. It was a new course this year and she rose to the challenge and competed with the best. She is the type of athlete that has internal motivation and drive which is something that is hard to teach. She has had an amazing high school cross country career and I am excited to see what the future holds for her.”
In the boys race, Quinn Mitchell of Fayette finished 59th with a time of 16:55.6.
OHSAA State Cross Country
Division II Boys
Team Scores (top 10)
1. Woodridge 113, 2. Waynesville 149, 3. Unioto 149, 4. Bay 163, 5. River View 192, 6. Marlington 205, 7. Wauseon 207, 8. Carroll 225, 9. Van Wert 232, 10. Mariemont 261.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010