KETTERING — It was cold, gray and rainy, but that didn’t stop more than 500 Ohio area cross country runners from tackling the hills and slippery slopes of the Neal Charske Invitational, Saturday at Indian Riffle Park.
Area teams from Bellbrook, Beavercreek and Fairborn were among the 17 Ohio high school teams entered in the varsity boys race, and the dozen schools in the varsity girls event.
Beavercreek varsity coach Howard Russ opted to keep his varsity boys team at home, and ran his girls junior varsity squad in the varsity girls race. The Beavercreek boys JV squad finished a solid fifth in their JV race, however.
“The conditions were very muddy and cold. We did not run our varsity, as we are preparing for New York this week,” Russ said. “Our JV men and women did very well with many person best times despite the conditions.”
Bellbrook’s Natalie Stein placed seventh in the girls varsity race, tops among Greene County area runners. She finished in a time of 19:58. Golden Eagle teammates Madison Pelfrey and Kayla Parker (20:08 each) finished 11th and 12th.
Janet Gao led the Beavercreek runners with a 36th-place finish (21:11).
Fairborn did not have a girls team on hand.
Kettering Alter senior Abby Nichols won the varsity girls race with a time of 18:46. Alter finished just ahead of Bellbrook’s runner-up team of Stein, Pelfrey, Parker, Elise Kemper and Emi Ford.
“The women JV runners placed eighth out of 22 teams in the girls varsity race, I was very pleased to see that we could place so high in the varsity race,” Beavercreek’s Russ said.
Several members of the Beavercreek varsity cross country team will be competing in the Manhattan College High School Cross Country Invitational, which takes place Saturday in the Bronx, N.Y. More than 250 high schools primarily from along the eastern coast are entered for the event. Beavercreek is the only team west of Pennsylvania that is listed as an entrant.
While no area runner placed in the top-50 in the boys varsity race, Bellbrook freshman Tyler Dreischarf was the top area finisher at 65th in a time of 18:55.
Cincinnati La Salle’s Brad Anneken won the boys race in 16:26. Another Cincinnati school, Elder, claimed the team title over runner-up La Salle. Bellbrook’s boys placed 12th and Fairborn was 17th.
Fairborn senior Brian Trevino led the Skyhawks with a 73rd-place finish in 19:27.
It wasn’t known whether the Bellbrook or Fairborn teams had juggled their lineups, similar to Beavercreek. According to the Southwestern Buckeye League website, Bellbrook’s top three boys runners — Connor Robinson, Cole Miller and Kyle Weslow — were not entered in Saturday’s Charske Invitational, however.
Attempts for comment from the Bellbrook and Fairborn coaches were unsuccessful.