By Mark Altstaetter
For AIM Media
OBETZ – When Chaney Cedarleaf and Margaret (Maggie) Hemmelgarn were managers for Minster girls’ high school cross country team back in grade school, they dreamed of someday winning a state title.
Now seniors on the Minster cross country team, Cedarleaf and Hemmelgarn can say they have won not just one state title, but three.
At Saturday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country meet at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park, Minster won its third consecutive Division III state title.
Minster won Saturday’s state championship in convincing fashion. Minster defeated second-place Rittman 62-123. West-Liberty-Salem (175) and Fort Loramie (191) rounded out the top four teams.
There are 20 full teams that figure into the team scoring in each division at the state meet.
Cedarleaf led Minster on Saturday with a sixth-place finish (18:43) and Hemmelgarn placed eighth (18:46). Teammate Maria Niekamp was not far behind, placing 21st (19:00) on the 5,000-meter course at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park.
With their top-30 finishes Saturday, Cedarleaf, Hemmelgarn and Niekamp earned all-Ohio honors. Minster’s other two scorers were Annie Hemmelgarn (44th, 19:42) and Claire Bohman (46th, 19:44). There were 185 finishers in the D-III girls’ race.
“Chaney (Cedarleaf) and I have been on this team together since we were managers in sixth grade,” Margaret (Maggie) Hemmelgarn said. “It’s so crazy because this is our last time to run with all of these girls. They have been a large part of my life. I’m just so thankful for them and to have the opportunity to run here, to leave it all out on the course and to win together.”
Added Cedarleaf, “I just love running with my teammates. It just makes it so much fun. Maggie (Hemmelgarn) helped me so much throughout the race. Just being able to run with her one last time is so exciting.”
Longtime girls’ head coach Jessie Magoto said she approaches each meet pretty much the same way.
“That’s just the focus – run your race, relax, and do what you normally do. We’re definitely not trying to underplay it (a state championship), but for their sake – it’s another race, another meet. … (Go out and) compete and see what you can do. Challenge yourself, and just run the race. Of course, there’s a lot more behind it. I love these girls. They love each other.”
Magoto said that each team is different, and she doesn’t dwell on the past.
“The number (of state championships) doesn’t matter. … It really doesn’t because every year is an amazing opportunity,” Magoto said. “Every group is unique and different. They’re all teenage girls that are just getting enough courage to go after for what they want. So, it really doesn’t matter what has happened before. … It’s what you can do today.”
Anna senior Paige Steinke finished seventh in 18:44; she finished first a year ago to win an individual state title.
Botkins senior Brittany Arnold finished 13th in 18:54.14 and junior Alaina Mann finished 28th in 19:20.
Fort Loramie’s Camille Borchers finished 34th in 19:27. Ariel Heitkamp finished 37th in 19:31, Lauren Moore finished 89th in 20:26, Harley Eilerman finished 103rd in 20:38 and Carly Holthaus finished 109th in 20:47.
Versailles’ Meredith Barga was 94th in 20:30.
Botkins boys 10th, Versailles 5th, New Bremen 6th
Versailles’ boys had the top finish of area teams by placing fifth with 197 points, 75 behind first-place Columbus Grove.
New Bremen finished sixth, Botkins finished 10th and Minster finished 15th out of 20 teams.
Botkins’ Carson Brown finished 29th in 16:25 and earned an all-Ohio spot as a top 30 finisher. Parker Schnippel finished 78th in 17:11, Collin Doseck finished 99th in 17:31, Lucas Arnold finished 128th in 17:59 and JJ Meyer finished 142nd in 18:18.
New Bremen’s Zach Wiedeman finished 16th in 16:14.46 and earned an all-Ohio spot. Dominic Shroyer was 52nd in 16:52, Jett Jellison was 80th in 17:16, Sam Bernhold was 126th in 17:57 and Caleb Wittenbrink was 140th in 18:16.
Versailles’ Tony Moorman finished 24th in 16:23.45. Cameron Magoto was 84th in 17:20, Jackson Spitzer was 88th in 17:23, Anthony Spitzer was 94th in 17:26 and Drew Meyer was 96th in 17:28.
Minster’s Ryan Halpin was 40th in 16:46. Jack Grieshop was 56th in 16:56, Nick Prenger was 71st in 17:07, Collin Cedarleaf was 156th in 18:27 and Carter Dircksen was 175th in 19:06.
Anna senior John Young finished 47th in 16:50.
Sidney Daily News sports editor Bryant Billing contributed to this report.