COLUMBUS — Trailing only one runner by a few steps heading around the final corner, Jack Agnew had what could equate to a short dragstrip left to cover until he reached the finish line.
By the end of the almost 140-yard dash, he had left his closest competitor in his dust.
Agnew became an individual state champion on Saturday in the Division II boys cross country race during the OHSAA state meet held at Fortress Obetz.
“It was tough. I haven’t had a lot of races where I was head-to-head and needing to kick to the finish, so it hurt a lot,” Agnew said of his final push. “I just wanted to stick on whoever was going and try to cover every move and then give it all I had at the finish.”
He finished with a time of 15:31.3 to set the course record for a D-II boys runner at Fortress Obetz by 11.6 seconds.
Agnew junior made it a clean sweep of postseason races. The junior came into the meet having already won his district race at Cedarville University and regional race at Troy High School the previous two weekends.
He began the state race with close to 20 others who had began to separate from the 180-runner race by the one-mile mark, which he said was a goal of his to maintain his pace as the number of contenders dwindled.
Eventually as competitors fell back, he only trailed Marlington’s Noah Graham by .6 seconds with 1,800 meters remaining.
“Once it was just us two around the two-mile mark, I knew I had a shot. I was excited,” Agnew said.
The pair of runners maintained their order as they re-entered the stadium setting for the final push to the finish line. Agnew would use the wide lane set up between the football field hash marks to up his speed and fly by Graham to end up winning by 2.7 seconds.
“I was pretty confident,” Agnew said. “We had been working on finishing strong all year and I think it worked out well.”
Fortress Obetz is in its second year hosting the OHSAA state cross country championships. Agnew said although the course is mostly flatter than many, a hill set up near the ending and the overall toughness of the competition makes it difficult to run.
Carroll as a team had also qualified for the meet having won both the district and regional races. The Patriots’ group had several runners get caught in the middle of the pack early on which lead to a seventh-place finish for the team.
“We were hoping to do better, but overall we’re all returning next year so it should be exciting,” Agnew said.
Souhan places 12th
Beavercreek senior Keegan Souhan participated in the D-I boys race. He set a personal best time of 15:34.6 to finish in 12th-place.
Souhan finished in 15th place at the 2020 state meet as a junior.
“I wanted to improve on where I was. I wanted to go out with a PR since this was going to be my real last race of my high school cross country career,” Souhan said. “And it was my first time running without a team, so it was a completely different experience and I just wanted to keep my head in the right space and come out better than 15th from last year.”
Souhan started the race in 41st after the initial turn at the 450m mark, but gradually improved his place at each milestone.
He made one pass in the final sprint and nearly caught another another before running out of time.
“I didn’t move up as many positions as I would have liked, but it was a more competitive year than last year,” he said. “I feel like I ran really well. There were a couple spots I could have been more in the zone and focused on what I was doing but it’s hard to do for 16 minute straight. I moved up and that was a goal, I’m happy with it.”
Other Greene County runners
The day began in the chilly temperatures and frost still on the ground with the Division III girls race. Yellow Springs’ junior Cheyan Sundell-Turner finished in 65th-place with a time of 20:11.6. The race had the largest field with 191 competitors.
The D-III boys race saw Cedarville junior Caleb Sultan finished in 53rd with a time of 16:55.9 and sophomore teammate Isaac Wallis run the race in 17:12.7 for 80th.
Carroll sophomore Sophia Bruhn finished 54th in the D-II girls race in 19:44.5, with freshman Ruby Gross close behind in 68th with a time of 19:58.3.
The Beavercreek girls team ran to a fourth-place finish in the D-I girls race.
Sophomore Abby Roberts was the top finisher on the team in 21st-place. She ran the course in 18:37.6.
Also finishing in the top-100 were senior Grace Dailey (19:13.1, 56th), freshman Macie Roberts (19:14.4, 59th) and senior Samantha Thomas (19:30.8, 77th).