Van Wert’s Kelsey Wagner competes during the Coldwater Lions Cross Country Invitational Thursday. The Lady Cougars placed fifht on the evening. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Van Wert’s Kelsey Wagner competes during the Coldwater Lions Cross Country Invitational Thursday. The Lady Cougars placed fifht on the evening. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)

BY BRIAN BASSETT

Times Bulletin Sports Editor

sports@timesbulletin.com

COLDWATER - The Van Wert Cougar boys cross country team continued to roll Thirsday night at the Coldwater Lions Cross Country Invitational, taking first place in the 19-team field.

"On the boys side, coming away with a win is obviously always a good thing, coming off a win this weekend in Michigan where we saw seven personal bests on the varsity side," Van Wert coach Brendon Moody said.

The boys race also saw the Crestview Knights and Lincolnview Lancers duke it out, with Crestview getting the better this time, edging Lincolnview 170-178 to take sixth-place. The Lancers took seventh in the very deep field.

"I thought both of our teams were making steps forward. We need to keep making those little steps now. I definitely think we're moving in the right direction," Crestview coach Jeff Bagley said.

Lancer coach Matt Langdon said the boys team was a little run down, and it showed tonight. "It wasn't our best race. We didn't run great on Saturday, so it didn't come as a surprise that we looked a little bit dead in the legs tonight. I'm not concerned about where we are, but at the same time it wasn't our best night."

Van Wert senior Jared Fleming was the top local finisher, taking second place in the boys race in a time of 16:07. Fleming was only edged by 2011 state champion Sam Prakel from Versailles (15:34).

Also scoring for the Cougars were senior Kase Schalois (third, 16:19), sophomore Connor Holliday (sixth, 16:35), junior Eric Easley (25th, 17:36) and sophomore Connor Schaffer (26th, 17:37).

Despite the win, Moody explained that his team has a long way to go to acheive its lofty goals. "Are we happy with the victory? Absolutely. Any time you can go down and run all of those Midwest Athletic Conference schools and come away a winner, that's a positive, but we recognize that there's a lot of work to do if we're going to make any sort of run towards the post season - on both the boys and girls side."

The Knights were led by senior Joel Genter, who took 10th on the evening with a time of 16:44. Also scoring for Crestview were: Mycah Grandstaff (15th, 16:57), Shelby Ripley (24th, 17:36), Branden Clayton (62nd, 18:23) and Tanner Skelton (64th, 18:25).

Sophomore Bayley Tow led Lincolnview with a 20th-place finish in 17:27. Tow was followed by: Alex Rodriguez (21st, 17:27), Ben Bilimek (31st, 17:41), Jeff Jacomet (36th, 17:48) and Skyler Whitaker (75th, 18:41).

The Parkway Panthers took 16th, they were led by Cameron Strunk, who placed 18th in 17:18.

On the girls side, which was dominated by first-place Coldwater and second-place Minster, the Lady Cougars led the locals with a fifth-place finish.

"We finished fifth," explained Moody. "We have some higher expectations that that. We had some solid performances tonight, but it was the sort of thing that it just didn't click."

The Lady Cougars are battling injuries, with the recent news that senior captain Jacey Eikenberry is out indefinited with a broken foot. Also, top-runner Andi Foster ran through injury Thursday.

The team was led by Chloee Gamble, who took 16th in 20:39."We were fortunate to have Chloee step up and run really well," described Moody.

Foster was second for the Lady Cougars, with a 18th-place finish in 20:43. Also scoring for the Lady Cougars were: Shealissa Williams (28th, 21:17), Megan Barnhart (45th, 21:44) and Kelsey Wagner (59th, 22:13).

The Lady Knights took 12th-place. They were led by senior Courtney Perrott, who finished 37th in 21:30. "Courtney had a nice race for us," explained Bagley.

Behind Perrott for Crestview were: Elizabeth Saylor (95th, 23:14), Hali Finfrock (101st, 23:19), Eden Allison (136th, 24:19) and Janelle May (160th, 25:00).

"I really think our kids are doing what they need to do as far as taking care of a lot of the little things now at the end of the year," Bagley said.

Parkway was 16th on the girls side. They were led by sophomore Allison Gaerke, who finished 23rd in 21:02.

The Lady lancers placed 18th in the 19-team field, but Langdon was happy to finally field a full team. "The girls tonight ran a full meet for the first time all season - that alone was a positive for us. We didn't run great times on the girls side, but I like the way they approached the race tonight, and the fought."

Linclnview was led by Anna Gorman, who placed 79th in 22:52. Also scoring for Lincolnview were: Taylor Miller (115th, 23:34), Mikinzie Dull (220th, 28:01), Maddie Enyart (234th, 29:25) and Fern Vangvichien (255th, 34:06).