This TB file photo shows Van Wert’s Andi Foster running in a race earlier this season. Foster took first place at the WBL championships in Ottawa Saturday. (TB file photo)
BY CHARLIE WARNIMONT
Times Bulletin Correspondent
OTTAWA - There were mixed emotions around the Van Wert cross country camp Saturday morning at Memorial Park in Ottawa.
On one side the Lady Cougars were happy as they claimed a Western Buckeye League championship, while the boys were disappointed, as they came up short in repeating as league champions at the WBL championships.
The Lady Cougars won the 2012 WBL championship finishing with 65 points to beat second-place Defiance by 21 points, as the Bulldogs finished with 86 points. This is the first WBL title for the Van Wert girls since the 2009 season.
On the boys side, Defiance won the championship finishing with 32 points, while the Cougars were second with 43 points.
"We knew coming in we were one of the better teams, but we tried to give it away with some equipment malfunctions," Van Wert coach Brendon Moody said of his girls win. "Schealissa Williams lost her foot (shoe) and we were able to get her her shoe back in the middle of the race and she put it back on. It's one of those things where we are going to have to run much better next week at districts to move on."
Junior Andi Foster led the Lady Cougars as she won the girls race in a time of 19:49, beating Defiance sophomore Olivia Fett to the finish line by four seconds. Cougar freshman Chloee Gamble finished third in 20:04, while Allisha Danylchuck was 18th in 21:34.7, and Williams was 19th in 21:34.8. Freshman Megan Barnhart was 24th in 21:59 and senior Kelsey Wagner was 25th in 22:01.
"We knew coming in that Andi and Chloee, if they ran well, could go one-two," Moody said. "Olivia Fett ran very well and finished second today.
The plan was for Andi to run in the front pack the first mile and she did. I told her I didn't want her leading until after the first mile, then she took over and once she did the race was hers. She ran with a lot of confidence. She was second as a freshman and second as a sophomore. She was the bridesmaid, today she is the bride. Chloee coming out this season is a blessing running cross country and running in the low 20's and running well."
Going into the boys race, the Cougars knew they had to stay within reach of the Defiance runners and in some cases have more than one runner finish in front of a Bulldog runner. That didn't happen as the Bulldogs were able to finish in front of the Cougars top three and had their first seven runners finish before Van Wert's top five.
"I think it could have been closer. We could have run better," Moody said. "We didn't run bad, but when you run Defiance you have to be on your A game or you will come in second. That's tough for the guys to swallow. They have been running well all year and knew they had a shot to beat Defiance. Defiance put seven on top of our first five and we knew to beat them we had to do that to them."
Senior Jared Fleming led the Cougars, as he finished second in 15:57. Defiance senior Abel Flores won the race in 15:42. Flores and Fleming matched stride for stride the first mile before Flores separated from the pack in the second mile.
Senior Kase Schalois finished fourth in 16:18, while sophomore Connor Holiday was eighth in 16:32, sophomore Connor Shaffer was 12th in 17:04 and freshman Cade Fleming was 17th in 17:10. Sophomore Jordan Butler was 18th in 17:29 and sophomore Nick Keber was 19th in 17:30.
"Abel ran a great race today," Moody said. "They were together the first mile, then somewhere in that second mile Abel made a move and Jared didn't cover. The level at which Abel and Jared are running its more of a tactical race and a strategic race to make sure you are in it. That's what happened all the way through the lineup. The Defiance runners made a move and we didn't cover. We're at that position if you are running for time and not position we are in trouble."
Van Wert's middle school team won the WBL championship finishing with 37 points. Recording top 10 finishes for the junior high team were Dyl Lautzenheiser with a fourth place finish in 11:49. Nathan Murphy was sixth in 11:58, Thane Cowan was seventh in 11:59 and Ryan Keber was eighth in 12:03.
In the girls junior high race, Van Wert was second with 69 points, as Kenton won with 40 points.
Cassidy Meyers finished fifth in 13:18, Natalie Riethman was seventh in 13:35 and Julia Springer finished ninth in 13:43.
Van Wert 65; 2. Defiance 86; 3. Ottawa-Glandorf 94; 4. Shawnee 98; 5. Celina 108; 6. St. Marys 115; 7. Elida 180; 8. Wapakoneta 181; 9. Kenton 252; 10. Bath 300.
A. Foster (W) 19:49; 3. C. Gamble (VW) 20:04; 18. A. Danylchuck (VW) 21:34; 19. S. Williams (VW) 21:34; 24. M. Barnhart (VW) 21:59; 25. K. Wagner (VW) 22:01; 48. W. Meyers (VW) 23:11; 63. K. Koontz (VW) 24:28; 65. L. Brubaker (VW) 24:35; 66. M. Sperry (VW) 24:43.
Defiance 32; 2. Van Wert 43; 3. Shawnee 90; 4. Celina 119; 5. St. Marys 136; 6. Wapakoneta 155; 7. Ottawa-Glandorf 168; 8. Elida 277; 9. Kenton 290; 10. Bath 294.
J. Fleming (VW) 15:57; 4. K. Schalois (VW) 16:18; 8. C. Holiday (VW) 16:32; 12. C. Shaffer (VW) 17:04; 17. C. Fleming (VW) 17:10; 18. J. Butler (VW) 17:29; 19. N. Keber (VW) 17:30; 23. S. Prichard (VW) 17:36; 31. E. Easley (VW) 17:59; 32. R. Rice (VW) 18:04; 38. D. Perry (VW) 18:15; 52. R. Baxter (VW) 18:50; 53. B. Beckner (VW) 18:52.