HEBRON, Ohio -- National Trail Raceway hosted the 89th annual boys and 40th annual girls state cross country championships on Saturday. There were no individual course records broken due to some rain in the days prior. This year’s races brought about no first-time team state championships. Five schools earned their second state championship, while the winningest cross country program in OHSAA history won its 11th title.
For the fifth time in OHSAA history, third straight time in Division II and second time in school history, Lexington swept the girls and boys cross country state championships in the same year. Lexington also accomplished the feat in 2015. Mogadore swept the championships in 1997, Salem in 2006 and Peninsula Woodridge in 2016.
It was business as usual for the Minster girls cross country team as it won back-to-back Division III state titles and an OHSAA-record 11th state championship. Minster also broke its own OHSAA Division III cross country state tournament records for fewest team points, finishing with 34, and largest margin of victory, outdistancing runner-up Mount Gilead by 97 points. The future looks bright for Minster, as the Wildcats had five top-25 finishers, none of which were seniors. Sophomore Emma Watcke earned medalist honors following a fifth-place finish in 2016 with a time of 18:38.4. Sophomore Gwendolyn Meiring finished fourth, and Kaitlynn Albers finished ninth for the Wildcats. Other than Minster’s Watcke, Gates Mill Gilmour Academy junior Katie Engel was the only other runner to have top-10 finishes in back-to-back years.
For the second time in three years, with a runner-up finish in between, Lexington won the OHSAA Division II girls cross country state championship. Lexington edged runner-up Lancaster Fairfield Union 137-147. Junior Carina Weaver was the lone top-25 finisher for Lexington, as she finished 14th with a time of 18:56.9. Chagrin Falls senior Annie Zimmer (18:13.5) and Beachwood senior Leah Roter (18:17.1) swapped spots on top of the podium this year as Zimmer finished first by three and a half seconds. Zimmer finishes her high school career with four top-10 finishes, while Roter accomplished the feat three times.
Centerville became the second school in OHSAA history to win four-straight Division I girls cross country state championships, joining Cincinnati Colerain (1997-2000). Centerville finished with 122 points, beating runner-up Cincinnati Ursuline Academy by 15. Three runners finished inside the top 25 for the Centerville Elks. Freshman Emma Bucher finished 12th with a time of 18:16.5, junior Grace Kilroy finished 18th with a time of 18:24.9, and senior Kerri Walsh finished with a time of 18:28.7, good for 22nd place. There were some familiar faces on the podium this year, as four runners achieved back-to-back top-10 finishes. Morgan Gigandet, a Troy senior, earned medalist honors following a sixth-place finish in 2016; Solon junior Olivia Howell moved up a spot by finishing as runner-up this year; Medina sophomore Juliette Keller finished sixth after finishing eighth in 2016; and Cincinnati Turpin junior Samantha Bush finished tenth after finishing fifth in 2016.
For the second time in school history and first time since 1998, the East Canton Hornets won the OHSAA Division III boys cross country state championship. The lone top-30 finisher for the Hornets was sophomore Demetrius Snellenberger, who finished fourth with a time of 16:12.0. Snellenberger finished 12th in 2016. Repeating as medalist and runner-up were North Robinson Colonel Crawford's Chad Johnson and Ottoville's Brendon Siefker, respectively. These finishes are accompanied by a fourth-place finish for Siefker and a seventh-place finish for Johnson in 2015. McDonald was the Division III team runner-up, finishing with 141 points.
Completing the sweep of the boys and girls cross country state championships, Lexington won its second OHSAA Division II boys cross country state title in three years. Lexington finished with 97 points, while runner-up Thornville Sheridan had a score of 101. The Minutemen had three finishers in the top-15 and two inside the top-five. Senior Ryan Johnston, who placed 10th in 2016, finished as runner-up (15:41.9), junior Kyle Johnston finished fourth (15:59.2) and senior Forest Volz finished 15th (16:15). Earning medalist honors for the second year in a row was Delaware Buckeye Valley senior Zach Kreft, who finished in 15:20.6, a full 21 seconds ahead of second place.
After finishing second in 2016, Hudson won its second OHSAA Division I boys cross country state championship with a score of 73 points. The Explorers were paced by three top-20 finishes. Junior Adam Beucler finished 11th (15:48.3), junior Evan Manley finished 16th (15:58.3) and senior Jack Good finished 17th (15:58.6). Dustin Horter of Liberty Township Lakota East stood atop the podium for the second year in a row with a time of 15:03.5. It was a sprint to the finish for Horter, who now has three consecutive top-three finishes, as he edged Middletown junior Conant Smith by just :0.4. Hilliard Davidson finished with 143 points, good for second place.