OBETZ — The list of names is too many to mention for a program that has won 13 high school girls cross country state championships, including four straight heading into Saturday’s Division III state meet.
Most recently names like Albers, Bohman, Magoto, Meiring, Pohl and Watcke (among many others) have inspired up-and-coming Wildcats including current senior Ella Boate.
“All the younger girls, when they come up they’ve seen what Minster has done in the past and they want to do that, too,” Boate said of what drives the Wildcats’ success. “They look at us on top of the podium with our medals and they think that’s what they want to be. At least that’s how I felt when I was younger.
“Even the girls a grade above me. It was like, oh my gosh you’re so great how could I ever be this good?”
Boate and fellow senior Mason Pohl concluded their OHSAA high school cross country careers at Fortress Obetz near Columbus on Saturday, adding to that legacy. Minster brought home another trophy with a runner-up finish in the 20-team, D-III meet. Boate finished sixth overall in 18:47.5 for her fourth straight all-Ohio honor. Pohl, competing in her third state meet, finished 47th in 20:06.8 in a field of 177 runners.
West Liberty-Salem won the D-III meet with 55 points to Minster’s 83, snapping the Wildcats’ state title winning streak at four.
“Of course you always want the gold. I’m not going to lie,” Minster coach Jessie Magoto said. “But nothing to shed a tear of. I’m extremely proud of what they’ve done and who they are.”
Talk to Magoto and she’ll tell you character trumps championships. The ’Cats have had both over the years. When it was mentioned to Boate that you can’t win them all, she smiled and said, “No, that takes the fun out of it.”
“(Finishing sixth) was really exciting for me,” Boate said. “I fought every minute of every race and I’ve raced consistently so that’s made me very happy. As a team everyone raced their hardest and we podiumed, so I was super excited about that.”
Joining Boate and Pohl on the podium were freshman Maggie Hemmelgarn (11th, 18:56.4), sophomore Taylor Roth (23rd, 19:26.8), freshman Chaney Cedarleaf (30th, 19:37), sophomore Cameo Cedarleaf (104th, 21:17.3) and Emma Meyer (107th, 21:19.3).
“All we want for them is when the pressure is on to be able to perform. And they performed,” Magoto said. “They ran well. They competed. … We were ranked third coming in. The girls showed up and they were fearless.”
And this year’s group likely inspired another crop of cross country runners at Minster.
Also in D-III girls, Fort Loramie finished fourth behind standout runs from juniors Olivia Borchers and Claire Rethman. Borchers finished seventh in 18:48.8 and Rethman ninth in 18:56. They joined Janel Olberding as the lone girls in program history to post sub-19 times.
“I’m just so excited about the individual efforts of Liv and Claire,” Fort Loramie coach Dennis Prenger said. “To have two girls do it on the same day, and on the biggest stage, says a lot.
“As for the team it wasn’t the finish we wanted, but we knew going in that the team field was really good. I know after the girls have some time to reflect, they will come to appreciate this season. Like every runner this year they had to deal with a lot of changes and uncertainty. I couldn’t be prouder of the resiliency they showed this season.”
Redskins seniors Dani Eilerman (43rd, 19:58.4), Corynn Heitkamp (87th, 20:47.3) and Caitlyn Gasson (103rd, 21: 13.5) capped their careers with another top-four finish. All three helped Loramie finish fourth, second, third and fourth at state.
“I know a lot of kids who aspire to get there just once,” Prenger said.
Anna’s girls made their state debut and finished 12th overall. Sophomore Grace Bensman (63rd, 20:20.9), junior Bethany Althauser (75th, 20:27.9), junior Kaylie Kipp (109th, 21:20.7), junior Breann Reaman (118th, 21:32.1), junior Hope Bixler (132nd, 22:08), freshman Paige Steinkie (136th, 22:09) and junior Kayli Brewer (142nd, 22:16.7) competed for the Rockets.
The Versailles girls finished 10th overall behind freshman Meredith Barga (36th, 19:43.3), freshman Carly Graves (95th, 21:01.7), senior Lauren Menke (113th, 21:22.3), senior Mallory Subler (98th, 21:06.9), freshman Holly Langenkamp (117th, 21:31.8), senior Maria Mangen (123rd, 21:39) and junior Madelyn Holzapfel (130th, 21:54.6).
Botkins’ girls had a pair of individual qualifiers with freshman Brittany Arnold (16th, 19:15.4) and senior Emma Koenig (97th, 21:04.3). Russia senior Becca Seger finished 90th in 20:50.4.
In D-III boys, Anna junior Hayden Schmidt logged the county’s top boys finish with seventh in 16:02.6.
“Seventh place, I’m proud of that. I beat everybody that beat me this season,” Schmidt said of outkicking Cedarville senior Ethan Wallis (eighth) and Minster junior Alex Albers (13th). “I got them today. They still ran great. I love those guys; they’re really good guys. We’re competitive but we’re also friends at the end.”
Schmidt is already planning a return trip to state for 2021. After the meet Schmidt was discussing summer workouts with Albers and Lima Perry junior Braden Yingst (ninth) as well as sharing stories and laughs from the season.
“That’s going to be us next year going 1-2-3 at state,” Schmidt said. “All those guys in front of us were seniors. I’m really happy about what it’s going to look like next year.”
The Rockets finished 17th overall with senior Jacob Robinson (60th, 16:56), senior Nick Fry (101st; 17:25.8), freshman John Young (145th; 18:12.2), senior Ethan Kitchen (147th; 18:13.3), junior Collin Frilling (154th; 18:19.9) and senior Carter Beam (156th; 18:26.2).
Minster’s boys finished 11th behind Albers’ 13th place in 16:16.5. He was followed by freshman Jack Grieshop (71st, 17:04.3), senior Josh Niekamp (93rd, 17:19.3), sophomore Jim Trzaska (116th, 17:36), junior Joseph Slonkosky (132nd, 17:44.6), freshman Ryan Halpin (155th, 18:20.1) and senior Mathew Droesch (158th, 18:32.7).
Botkins’ boys finished 12th with senior Alan Fullenkamp (62nd, 16:57), senior Donovan Brown (102nd, 17:25.9), freshman Grant Flora (103rd, 17:26.5), sophomore Carter Pleiman (105th, 17:27), sophomore Keaton Schnippel (108th, 17:28.2), freshman Parker Schnippel (113th, 17:32.6) and junior Cole Steinke (148th, 18:13.3).
Fort Loramie’s boys qualified two individuals with junior Colten Gasson (29th; 16:27.8) and junior Colin Gasson (90th; 17:17.8). Jackson Center sophomore Kellen Reichert finished 72nd in 17:04.5.