TROY — The cold, wet and windy conditions at the regional cross country meet left more than a few runners feeling miserable on Saturday.
As for Botkins sophomore Collin Watterson, he was all smiles after navigating the muddy 3.1-mile course that wrapped around the Troy levee. As season ago Watterson missed qualifying for state by 0.3 seconds in Division III.
On Saturday, Watterson worked his way into fourth to clinch a spot at next week’s state championship meet at National Trail Raceway near Hebron. And he won’t be alone. The Trojans finished fourth as a team to also qualify.
It was a good day for the Shelby County Athletic League as Anna sophomore Lucas Smith outkicked Cedarville junior Ethan Wallis to win the D-III regional title. Smith won in 16:50.87 to beat Wallis by 0.66 seconds. Smith beat Wallis by 0.2 seconds last week to win the D-III district title.
The Rockets also qualified as a team by finishing second with 82 points. Cincinnati Summit Country day won with 55.
“It’s been great,” Watterson said of the competition with Anna and Fort Loramie, among others, in the SCAL this season. “We hope to show state what the Shelby County League has to offer.”
Botkins returned to the state meet for the first time since 2015 and the seventh time in program history. Watterson’s time of 17:00.88 led the Trojans. He was followed by junior Alan Fullenkamp (17:15.88), freshman Keaton Schnippel (18:13.88), senior Elliot Goubeaux (18:14.75), freshman Carter Pleiman (18:30.32), junior Donovan Brown (18:33.77) and sophomore Cole Steinke (18:43.01).
“It feels amazing. It feels great to have them come with me,” Watterson said.
“I was feeling pretty good. I was just trying to improve from last year since I was one spot away. … It drove me a lot. It made me push a lot harder than I did last season. I just used it as a way to push forward.”
Anna is ranked No. 7 and Botkins No. 13 in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches state poll. As for Fort Loramie, the defending D-III state champs finished fifth – 17 points behind Botkins’ 108 – to miss qualifying for state by one spot.
“Congratulations to Anna and (coach) Dean (Stewart). Fort Loramie was right there with us, too. There’s a lot of talent in our county,” Botkins coach Ryan Gutman said.
“These guys are not just talented but they work hard. When those two things match up good things happen. They are used to running well. In this weather they delivered today.”
Anna’s boys qualified for state for the first time since 2016 and 11th time overall. Lucas was followed by junior Jacob Robinson (17:14.97), sophomore Hayden Schmidt (17:19.77), senior Caleb Gaier (17:57.74), sophomore Collin Frilling (18:29.12), junior Nick Fry (18:49.52) and junior Connor McKinney (18:59.97).
Qualifying as individuals in D-III were Fort Loramie sophomore Colten Gasson (17:11.68) and Houston senior Blake Jacobs (17:14.03).
In D-III girls, Fort Loramie finished second with 39 points to regional champion West Liberty-Salem’s 32. Versailles grabbed the fourth and final state qualifying spot with 155, two point ahead of Summit Country Day.
Loramie – making its fourth straight appearance and 18th overall – was led by sophomore Olivia Borchers, who finished fourth in 19:20.85. Freshman Ava Turner (19:47.35) and junior Dani Eilerman (19:58.27) were seventh and ninth to post top-10 finishes. Joining them as state qualifiers were sophomores Claire Rethman (20:16.07) and Anna Detrick (20:22.26), junior Caitlyn Glasson (20:50.81) and junior Corynn Heitkamp (21:14.61).
Versailles’ team was comprised of junior Maria Mangen (21:22.87), sophomore Madelyn Holzapfel (21:32.09), junior Lauren Menke (21:42.53), senior Hannah Bey (22:01.59), sophomore Delaney Barga (22:19.68), sophomore Kaylee Phelan (22:53.85) and senior Emma Peters (23:16.86). The Tigers have qualified for state 18 times overall and three straight.
Russia junior Becca Seger (20:11.58) and Houston sophomore Ava Knouff (20:13.55) qualified as individuals.
Minster earns state berths at Tiffin
Minster’s boys and girls cross country teams earned state qualifying berths in the D-III races in the Tiffin regional meet on Saturday.
Minster’s girls won a regional title by finishing first with 62 points. The team was comprised of Ella Boate (18:34.1), Taylor Roth (19:01.7), Mason Pohl (19:38.8), Mackenzie Bohman (19:40.2), Cameo Cedarleaf (19:58.2), Emma Meyer (20:34.1) and Rachel Kitzmiller (21:40.3).
“I thought they ran well,” longtime Minster girls coach Jessie Magoto said. “The bottom line is that all I want them to do, is advance. No matter what place you are, you’re still running in November.
“So, we got some PRs and the girls worked together. Overall, I’m pretty happy at how they ran.”
The Wildcats’ boys finished fifth. The team was comprised of Alex Albers (16:11.3), Luke Barga (16:53.6), Austin Felice (17:30), Joseph Slonkosky (17:42.0), Brock Schulte (17:49.1), Joel Berelsman (18:18.8) and Tyler Prenger (18:26.4).
AIM Media Midwest freelancer Mark Altstaetter contributed to this report.