Caylee Phillips leads the pack during the Regional meet a week and a half ago in Tiffin. Phillips will compete in the State meet this Saturday, as will Lincolnview and Crestview. (DHI Media/ Larry Heiing)
Caylee Phillips leads the pack during the Regional meet a week and a half ago in Tiffin. Phillips will compete in the State meet this Saturday, as will Lincolnview and Crestview. (DHI Media/ Larry Heiing)
DELPHOS — What a strange 2018 cross country season it has been from start to finish. It began with the Delphos Blue Jay Invitational canceling the boys high school race when persistent lightning began during the girls run. Then in the final week, O.H.S.A.A. postponed the State meet due to flooding on the National Trails course.

“The girls (and coaches) were disappointed that there wasn’t a back-up plan for the State meet” said Columbus Grove girl’s coach Jason Jay.

“ This was the biggest let down as you have this season long build up that gets completely altered and really takes away from the experience. All of that said, the extra week of practice definitely did throw a wrench into things for not only us, but for all the runners involved. We had a great practice last Friday followed by 2 days of rest with good workouts in the beginning of the week. Our girls will be ready to compete on Saturday to meet our goal to finish in the top 8 after placing 10th and 8th the past two seasons” finished Jay.

Competing for the Bulldog ladies at State will be Morgan Deffenbaugh, Erin Downing, Alyssa Ellerbrock, Leanndra Price, Hannah Schroeder, Emily Schumacher, and Zoe Stechschulte.

The Columbus Grove boys will also be following the girls to the State meet this year. Boys coach Terry Schnipke explained the postponement as “There was a collective exhale from our runners, coaches, parents and supporters. Suddenly, everyone was physically, emotionally, and psychologically halted and redirected. It was an odd weekend with no practices which is a foreign concept to cross country runners in the fall. If anything good can come from this postponement, we have one or two guys banged up a bit from the last few tough weeks, so they had a few days off to recuperate.”

Last year, junior Johnny Schmiedebusch qualified for State as an individual. This year, he is bringing his Bulldog team mates along for the experience at Hebron. Joining him will be juniors Breece Pingle and Tanner Smith, senior Jordan Bellman, and the freshman trio of Carson Closson, Caleb Stechschulte, and Tayden Pingle.

“I have been pleased all year with the effort of these guys and I have no doubt that they will be ready to represent our school and conference in fine fashion. They have a bit of a bad taste in their mouths from a bad performance at Tiffin and are eager to show our mettle on the big stage at State. When our boys step up to the starting line, they will be ready to race since they were built for this” ended Schnipke.

Putnam County will also be represented at the State meet by Leipsic sophomore Ethan Chambers.

Spencerville freshman Lillie Stewart will be representing the Bearcats at State as an individual. “Lillie has had an outstanding season which she prepared for by running during the summer and attending running camp” explained Spencerville coach Brian McMichael. “She has a great attitude and has been running really well during these important last weeks of the season. She had her best time last week at Tiffin with a 20:20 for 30th place in a very tough field of runners. I think she has a good shot at being in the top 60 at the State meet if she runs her race. I know she will show up and be ready to race”.

Another lady competing as an individual is Van Wert junior Caylee Phillips. “This is Caylee’s first appearance at State, so regardless of the outcome, it’s going to be an incredible experience for her.” said Van Wert coach Ryan Holliday. “She has gained so much confidence in how she races and if she uses that this weekend, she’ll be happy with the result. I also believe that the extra week to prepare will serve as an advantage for Caylee. The extra week has given her an opportunity to catch her breath a little bit and will be ready to go” wrapped up Holliday.

Lincolnview will also be representing the Northwest Conference with both the girls and boys squads. Lancer coach Matt Langdon exclaimed “the postponement of the State meet has definitely been a unique situation. We adopted a college type of training routine after meeting last Thursday as college teams typically have two weeks in between their races. Our boys were ranked #12 in the pre-State poll and they feel that they are a top 10 team motivated to improve upon that ranking. The girls were ranked #13 in the poll and also want to improve upon their ranking.”

The Lincolnview ladies will be lead at State by seniors Rylee Byrne, Brayden Langdon and Madeline Snyder. Also competing at National Trail will be Dylann Carey, Madison Langdon, Victoria Snyder and Julia Stetler.

“The kids have continued to work hard in practice and we know that as the race approaches, some of that excitement and adrenaline will return” Langdon explained.

The Lancer boys squad consists of Karter Tow, Alek Bowersock, Jacob Keysor, Collin Pucket, Joe Sadowski, Daegan Hatfield, and Devon Bill.

The Crestview girls grabbed the 8th and final spot at Tiffin last week to punch their ticket to the State meet. The Knights were lead by junior Ragen Harting along with Lauren Walls, Emily Greulach, Lizzie Bowen, Adalynn Longstreth, Kenzie Leeth and Lydia Saylor.

Parkway’s Matt Gaerke and Kyle Roth will be representing the Midwest Athletic Conference for the Panthers.

Racing at the National Trail Raceway in Hebron will begin with the D-III boys race at 11:00 a.m. followed by the D-II (11:45), and D-I (12:30 p.m.) The girls get their turn beginning with D- III at 1:30 p.m. and the D-II race taking off at 2:15.