By John Bombatch
XENIA — The Greene County area will be represented by four teams and a pair of individual runners when the 2016 cross country state championships take place Saturday, Nov. 5 at Hebron’s National Trail Raceway.
They won’t just be representing. Several of those teams have chances to win it all.
The Beavercreek boys and girls teams, Carroll’s boys team, and Bellbrook’s girls team will be on hand. Individual boys runners Justin Boreman of Bellbrook, and Isaac Erlandson of Legacy Christian, will also be running on Saturday.
While Boreman and Erlandson are the only members of their respective teams to reach the state meet, each of the advancing area teams were ranked in the final Ohio Area Track and Cross Country Coaches pre-regional poll. After each of the four teams placed in the top-5 in their respective divisions, chances are that they’d be ranked even higher prior to Saturday’s races.
Moments after finishing fifth in the 17-team girls Division I regional in Troy, each member of the the No. 6-ranked Beavercreek girls team had a frown on her face. Sure, the top-5 teams were guaranteed a spot in the state championships. That’s all well and good, but this bunch expects more.
Beavercreek coach Howard Russ said he’d put the girls through a tougher workout on the Wednesday before the regional meet, with the idea that it would help the team down the road at the state meet.
The Beavercreek girls team is led by freshman Taylor Ewert. She placed eighth out of 129 runners at the regional in 18:52.9, but her best time this season is 18:34. Ewert will be joined by seniors Jordan Grant and Lauren Shuman, junior Stephanie Pierce, sophomore Jordan Grant and fellow freshmen Jodie Pierce and Morgan Rhoades.
Bellbrook entered the regional with a state ranking of No. 7 in Division II, but the Golden Eagles won the Troy Regional. Coached by Jeanne Johnson, the Golden Eagles are out to back up their impressive performance with possibly a state crown. Madison Pelfrey leads the contingent. She was sixth at Troy in 19:42.53, but her best time this season is quicker at 19:34.
Pelfey will be joined at National Trail Raceway by senior teammates Emi Ford, Lauren Kemper, Kayla Parker, and Kylee Parker, junior Maddie Crane and sophomore Elise Kemper.
The Beavercreek boys advanced by finishing second to Cincinnati St. Xavier at the Troy Regional. They were ranked 20th in the pre-regional OATCCC state poll, but appear to be peaking at the right time.
Ben Ewert leads the Beavers boys. The senior turned in a Greater Western Ohio Conference-best time of 15:43 during the regular season. He finished third out of 132 in 16:08.60 in Troy.
The rest of the speedy Beavercreek bunch is made up of sophomore Riley Bucholz and seniors Jake Benigno, Matthew Gregson, Ian Johnson, Luke Kleinfelder and Michael Stephenson.
The Carroll boys came into the D-II Troy Regional ranked eighth in the OATCCC state poll but won the regional crown.
Patriot senior Mike Laughlin has a bit of a battle going with Joe Spitzer of Versailles, and the two harriers are going faster each time they battle. Laughlin won the district crown in 16:17.84 on the Cedarville University course. Spitzer nipped Laughlin at the Troy finish line by .03 of a second to win in 16:17.07.
Asked whether he planned on hanging with Spitzer at the state meet, Laughlin shrugged and laughed.
“There’s a lot of runners out there for that meet, I don’t know if I’ll even see him at the start. I’ll just go out and do my best,” he said.
Finally, the area’s two individual runners — Boreman and Erlandson — have something to prove as well.
Boreman, a senior, ran the second quickest time in the Southwestern Buckeye League with a 16:33 clocking at the league championship. He ran a 16:46.74 at Troy.
Erlandson can brag about being the first runner from Xenia Legacy Christian Academy to make the state meet. That’s because this is the first year for the school, which was formally called Xenia Christian High School. He too has something to prove in Hebron.
The junior’s best time this year came at the Metro Buckeye Conference championships (16:37), but he was much slower in Troy, finishing in 16:54.53.
In each case, the runners were slower at the regional and still advanced.
Perhaps better times await each of them at the state championship.