Olentangy Liberty’s boys cross country team picked a pretty nice time to pull its best race of the season out of its bag of tricks, getting a balanced effort en route to winning its first-ever Division I Regional championship Saturday at Pickerington North.
Led by standouts Andrew Johnston and Jim Pappas, the Patriots combined to finish with 91 points, edging second-place Dublin Coffman by nine.
Johnston and Pappas each collected top-10 finishes — Johnston closing fourth in 16:08.52 and Pappas crossing the finish line sixth among the 120 runners in action in 16:13.35.
Josh Cottrill, and Zach VanGundy also authored steady showings, finishing 19th and 26th in respective times of 16:45.12 and 16:58.19.
With the win, Liberty punched a ticket to its first State Championship Meet Saturday at National Trail Raceway.
Olentangy Orange’s Danny Meyung also earned a spot in the state showcase, qualifying as an individual thanks to his effort of 16:10.99 — good enough for fifth overall.
In D-II action at Troy, Buckeye Valley’s boys finished 14th with 316 points.
Jordan Knieper led the Baron effort, finishing 34th in 17:37.46. Other standouts included Matthew Stewart, who was 71st in 18:02.81; and Drew Slavik, who was 81st in 18:25.31.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
The course at National Trail Raceway won’t be quite as busy in terms of the local girls striding through the around the twists, turns and straightaways, but Orange’s Hannah Hartzell did her part in making sure Delaware County will be represented.
The Pioneer standout finished second among the 121 individuals in action Saturday in Pickerington, crossing the line in 18:53.3.
Of the three local teams competing — Orange, Liberty and Hayes — Hartzell was the only runner to advance.
The Patriots, led by Claire Wiles’s 19th-place effort of 20:10.08, missed qualifying as a team by just one spot, finishing fifth with 179 points. The Pioneers closed eighth with 238 while the Pacers finished 16th with 401.
Other Liberty leaders included Mhairi Johnston, who finished 36th in 20:52.26; and Trinity Wiles, who finished 40th in 20:58.37.
Brooke Pulkrabek joined Hartzell in the top 50 for Orange, finishing 48th in 21:16.84, while Shauni Kerkhoff crossed the line 60th in 21:24.39.
Hayes, meanwhile, was boosted by Katie Haller, who finished 72nd in 21:46.54; Emily Richards, who closed 77th in 21:53.87; and Sierra Mollenkopf, who finished 88th in 22:06.31.