Above, Crestview’s Mycah Grandstaff (left) and Lincolnview’s Bayley Tow (right) compete in the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships at Columbus Grove Saturday. Tow took fourth and Grandstaff placed sixth. (Times Bulletin/Charlie Warnimont)
Above, Crestview’s Mycah Grandstaff (left) and Lincolnview’s Bayley Tow (right) compete in the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships at Columbus Grove Saturday. Tow took fourth and Grandstaff placed sixth. (Times Bulletin/Charlie Warnimont)
BY BRIAN BASSETT

Times Bulletin Sports Editor

sports@timesbulletin.com

COLUMBUS GROVE - The Crestview and Lincolnview boys cross country teams have been battling it out all season, each getting the better of the other at several points in the year.

Saturday, at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships at Columbus Grove, the Knights came out on top, edging Lincolnview by three points, 58-61, securing second place behind Grove's 30.

"We had like 13 out of our 19 guys who ran run a PR - we just had a number of great performances," explained Crestview coach Jeff Bagley. "It was a day where, Columbus Grove does a good job of running the meet, they've got a nice course, we should be at our best fitness of the year - and it was nice to see people take advantage of that and run well."

Lancer coach Matt Langdon credited the Knights with running a strong race. "Give a lot of credit to Crestview, they were second and they beat us by three points. It wasn't that we didn't run well. They just, I thought, had their best race of the season."

Despite just missing second place to a county rival, Langdon was happy with the way his team ran. "Our boys ran well. I think we had a very large majority of our top kids, and our whole team, run PRs. It was a fast course and a perfect day, but we took advantage of those conditions and the course, and ran really well."

Leading the local runners was Crestview senior Joel Genter, who placed second in 16:21. Grove star runner Jake Graham placed first in 15:55.

"Joel has got a good work ethic and a really good attitude. He takes a really good approach, not only to the race but to the preparation it takes to run well. He's been doing a great job of running even splits. I think he even ran a negative-split last mile (Saturday) which is really hard to do when you are running at the level he is," Bagley said of Genter.

Also earning first team All-NWC honors with a fourth-place finish was Lincolnview sophomore Bayley Tow, who finished in a time of 16:31.

"He's matured a great deal," said Langdon of Tow. He obviously has a lot of talent, but his year I think he's learning how to race. He really focused a lot yesterday on running smart, using strategy and reacting to some of the things around him. Hid did that. I thought he put himself in a really good position the last mile."

Crestview sophomore Mycah Grandstaff just missed first team all-conference honors, placing sixth in 16:34. Rounding out the Knight top five were, senior Shelby Ripley (13th, 17:29), junior Bryce Richardson (18th, 17:40) and junior Tanner Skelton (22nd, 18:02).

"You go right down the line, Mycah ran well, and Shelby - they both ran PRs. Bryce Richardson had a great race for us. Tanner Skelton had a PR. A lot of guys ran well, so that was nice to see," Bagley said.

Finishing behind Tow for the Lancers were, senior Jeff Jacomet (11th, 17:13), junior Ben Bilimek (12th, 17:13), sophomore Alex Rodriguez (15th, 17:31) and freshman Skylar Whitaker (23rd, 18:03). Freshman Trevor Neate just missed the top five, with a 26th-place finish in 18:09. Whitaker and Neate were the top two finishing freshmen.

"Our top five average was 17:18, there's nothing more we could have done. I was really happy with the way the kids responded going into tournament next week," Langdon explaied.

The Lady Knights placed their top five runners in the top 25 of the race on their way to a third-place finish with 69 points. Crestview just missed Bluffton, who took second with 67. Spencerville claimed first with 25 points.

"We were actually just two points out of second, (two points) away from Bluffton. That's the way cross country is, a place here or there can make a big difference. I was pleased with the way the girls ran and the way they approached the race," Bagley said.

Senior Courtney Perrott took fifth for Crestview, in 20:45, to earn a spot on the NWC's first-team. "That was nice for Courtney. That actually tied her PR, that's the best she's run this year," described Bagley.

Also scoring for Crestview were, junior Jalelle May (16th, 22:22), sophomore Hali Finfrock (18th, 22:31), senior Elizabeth Saylor (24th, 23:08) and junior Chelsea Hancock (25th, 23:09).

The Lady Lancers had only four runners finish and did not score as a team. They were led by a 19th-place finish by freshman Anna Gorman in 22:39.

"Anna had an okay race for us. It's not one of her favorite courses, sometimes that gets in your head. I did notice she was the top-placing freshman in the conference. I told her that when we got back to the school, so hopefully that encourages her," Langdon said.

Senior Taylor Miller was just behind Gorman, with a 21st-place finish in 22:46. "(Taylor) has had a very solid senior year. She's been a really strong leader, she's provided some consistency here at the end (of the season) and some toughness," explained Langdon of Miller.

Sophomores Mikinzie Dull (55th, 27:16) and Maddie Enyart (60th, 27:48) rounded out the field of Lady Lancers.

All four teams will be in action next Saturday, as they travel to Liberty Center for the district race. Liberty Center is a new site for the race, which both teams will have to prepare for.

"It's going to be tough," said Langdon. "We've got a really tough district. We're going some place we've never raced before - Liberty Center. At this point of the season you just focus on yourself. We're starting to rest now, and the kids have fresh legs, we're backing off.

"They're excited. There's nothing more I can do at this point. They bought in all season. We've just got to go out, focus on us the best we can, and hopefully the results are favorable on us."

Bagley also said his team has to be ready to go Saturday. "We'll do some things this week. You're at the time of the year where you've trying to fine-tune some things and make sure, not only that you're fresh, but you're trying to race with a lot of confidence... (The course) is going to be brand new to a lot of people. It's going to be exciting to see a different place to compete. That should be fun."

Boys final standings:

1. Columbus Grove 30

2. Crestview 58

3. Lincolnview 61

4. L.C.C. 71

5. Bluffton 179

6. Paulding 181

7. Allen East 193

8. Spencerville 205

Girls final standings:

1. Spencerville 25

2. Bluffton 67

3. Crestview 69

4. Col. Grove 74

5. Paulding 125