CEDARVILLE — Three points separated the Anna Rockets and Botkins Trojans last week at the Shelby County Athletic Conference boys cross country meet. The deficit was cut to two points at the district championships on Saturday with another Anna victory.
What happens at next weekend’s regional championship is anyone’s guess. Both teams welcome the challenge … and the opportunity to see each other again.
As far as rivalries go, this one is as friendly as it gets. And throw Fort Loramie into the mix, too.
“We all hang out. We’ll play Spikeball together,” Anna junior Hayden Schmidt said. “After the league meet we were chilling out with the Loramie boys. We’re all good friends. Everyone in the county is friends. It’s still competitive but we all stay cool with each other.”
Anna remained the team to beat after Saturday’s district meet at Cedarville University’s Elvin R. King cross country course. The Rockets won their second straight Division III district title with a 43-45 win over runner-up Botkins.
Technically, the Rockets have won five straight D-III titles if you discount 2017 and 2018 when Anna competed in D-II.
Schmidt led the way with his individual championship in 16:12.3. Botkins senior Alan Fullenkamp finished second 52.2 seconds later.
To comply with COVID-19 guidelines on the course, each boys and girls division was split into two races — Race A and Race B — to reduce the number of runners competing at the same time.
Moments before Anna’s race, Cedarville senior Ethan Wallis set the D-III course record in 15:51 in Race A. Breaking it was Schmidt’s goal, too.
“I wanted that record,” said Schmidt, who ran alone the majority of the race. “During the race I knew I needed to push myself but it just didn’t click.
“It was still a good day. A win’s a win. I was hoping for a better time but at the end of the day we won as a team so that’s all that matters.”
Schmidt was joined by senior Jacob Robinson (3rd, 17:06.2), junior Lucas Smith (8th, 17:28), senior Nick Fry (10th, 17:35.9), senior Ethan Kitchen (21st, 18:04.4), junior Collin Frilling (22nd, 18:04.5) and freshman John Young (27th, 18:21.4).
“It just feels amazing to see your hard work pay off,” Robinson said. “Mr. Dean Stewart is one of the best out there. He helps us every day to keep going.”
Botkins also qualified for next Saturday’s regional meet in Troy with Fullenkamp, freshman Parker Schnippel, freshman Grant Flora, sophomore Keaton Schnippel, sophomore Carter Pleiman, senior Donovan Brown and junior Collin Watterson.
Anna is ranked No. 9 in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCC) state poll. Botkins is No. 10.
“It’s a lot of fun because you never know what the outcome is going to be,” Robinson said. “We’re right there with each other.”
On the girls side, Botkins freshman Brittany Arnold won the D-III Race B district title in 19:07.4. Fort Loramie claimed the team title with a 26-67 victory over Botkins.
“It feels pretty good,” said Arnold, who won the SCAL title last week. “I was basically going to run the first mile nice and comfortable to get a feel for the race. The second mile explode if I feel good and keep it rolling.
“I’ve run against these girls for almost a full season so I kind of knew what they were doing. They’re really good runners so I’m glad I get to compete against them.”
Loramie’s champion girls team included junior Claire Rethman (2nd), junior Olivia Borchers (4th), senior Dani Eilerman (5th), sophomore Ava Turner (6th), senior Caitlyn Gasson (10th), senior Corynn Heitkamp (11th) and freshman Collen Borchers (12th).
Botkins runner-up finish included Arnold, senior Emma Koenig (9th), freshman Malanie Maurer (18th), senior Makenna Maurer (20th), freshman Ava Egbert (23rd), senior Jill Greve (27th) and sophomore Alaina Jutte (30th).
Also qualifying in D-III girls were Anna and Russia. Anna’s team included junior Bethany Althauser (6th), sophomore Grace Bensman (9th), junior Breann Reaman (24th), freshman Paige Steinkie (26th), junior Kaylie Kipp (28th), junior Kaylie Brewer (34th) and junior Hope Bixler (36th).
Russia’s girls team was comprised of senior Becca Seger (7th), junior Ella Hoehne (20th), junior Sophie Francis (21st), freshman Sage Hoying (29th), freshman Eva Goubeaux (30th) and sophomore Anna Meyer (41st).
Additional D-III boys regional qualifiers included Fort Loramie, Russia and Houston. The Redskins finished second to Cedarville in Race A while Russia was fourth.
Qualifying for Loramie was junior Colten Gasson (second), junior Colin Gasson (third), sophomore Adam Ballas (11th), junior Trey Ranly (13th), sophomore Frank Rethman (20th), sophomore Kameron Barhorst (40th) and senior Jason Chaney (46th).
Senior Nicholas Caldwell (8th), freshman Brayden Monnin (14th), senior Jonathon Bell (16th), junior Aiden Shappie (26th), sophomore Xavier Phlipot (27th), sophomore Zane Shappie (36th) and sophomore Seth Hiatt (39th) advanced for Russia.
Houston finished fourth in Race B to also qualify with junior Hunter Mowery (9th), freshman Wesley Vondenhuevel (18th), junior Justin Pollock (29th), junior Ryan Ely (35th), sophomore Ethan Davis (41st), sophomore Lucas Langenkamp (44th) and senior Brandon Pollock (56th).
Jackson Center sophomore Kellen Reichert (4th) qualified as an individual.
In the D-I meet, Sidney’s boys finished ninth overall and were led by sophomore Gavin Musser in 37th.
Sidney’s girls placed seventh. Freshman Emily Fleming had the highest finish with 28th.