HOUSTON — The Houston community has been like a family.
And it is no different with the high school cross country program. The boys will make history on Saturday when they become the first Houston team to race in the state meet, which is at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. They will be preceded by Houston junior Hollie Voisard, who is running in the girls race.
“We don’t really look at it as a boys team or girls team,” Bill McKinney, who coach the teams along with Ron Boeke and Tyler Roeth, said. “We are one team. When Hollie (Voisard) made it to state Saturday (in the girls race), the boys were excited and it really pumped them up. This is a great group of kids and they have worked really hard.”
Junior Tristin Freistuhler led the boys with a 12th-place finish at 17:04 at the Division III regional race on Saturday at Troy.
“We probably started thinking about it (going to state) at some point last year,” Freistuhler said. “It is exciting to accomplish our goal. It was definitely a goal at the beginning of the season. I really haven’t thought about (being the first Houston team to qualify for state), but it is exciting realizing we are going to be running at state.”
Ethan Knouff, also a junior, was the next finisher for Houston on Saturday. He was 14th a time of 17:08.
“I think at some point last year, we started thinking about going to state,” Knouff said. “This is just a good group of guys. I know it may seem like we goof off a lot, but work really hard and are focused.”
The course will not be new for the Wildcats.
“We ran the course at the preseason meet (sponsored by the OHSAA),” Knouff said. “But, the atmosphere will be completely different Saturday. It is exciting to reach our goal.”
The runners are focused on Saturday.
“One of the things I told the kids is you just can’t be thinking you will be over there again next year,” McKinney said. “You don’t know about next year, so take advantage of the moment.”
Voisard qualifies for state in D-III
While Voisard has no explanation for her improvement this season, the results speak for themselves.
After finishing 21st at district in 21:45, Voisard finished 12th at the regional Saturday in 20:39 to earn a state berth.
While Voidard finished 42nd in the district meet last year in 21:55, she showed improvement immediately this year, opening the season with an 18th-place finish at the Bob Schul Invitational in 21:13.
“I didn’t even make it to regionals last year,” Voisard said. “The first race of the year, I started thinking about it. I remember thinking that it went a lot better than last year. I was kind of surprised.”
McKinney said no one should ever sell Voisard short.
“I think there are a combination of things that have led to Hollie’s improvement,” he said. “We were pleasantly surprised at that first race. Hollie is a very competitive girl. I think that is one of the things that really helps her.”
But, Voisard admits she didn’t know what to think after qualifying for state Saturday.
“I just kind of blanked out after crossing the finish line,” she said. “Then everybody came up and started congratulating me.”
And she is not discounting another surprise Saturday at state.
“It helps a lot (having the boys there and not being there by herself),” Voisard said. “You never know, anything can happen.”
And McKinney knows this season can have a big impact on the season.
“I think these kids remember what it was like running in junior high,” he said. “And the junior high kids look up to them. It definitely is a motivator for them. They see what can happen when you work hard.”
Like make school history and send eight runners from the “family” to the state meet.
Fort Loramie boys looking for repeat Div. III title
Fort Loramie’s boys cross country team was first in district and regional races and will look to capture the D-III state title for the second consecutive season. The Redskins had three runners in the top 13 last year and won the race by 23 points.
The Redskins’ girls, who were second in the regional race on Saturday at Troy, are looking for a better performance at state after finishing 17th out of 20 teams last year.
Two Botkins runners qualify
Botkins senior Austin Fullenkamp and freshman Emma Koenig qualified for state on Saturday. Fullenkamp finished tenth in the D-III boys race with a time of 17:00.5. Koenig was No. 14 in the girls race with a time of 20:40.4. The top 16 individual finishers in each race qualify for state.
Minster girls looking for repeat Div. III title
Minster’s girls team had three of the top five finishers last year and dominated the Div. III girls race. The Wildcats, which had four of the top 10 finishers in the regional race on Saturday at Tiffin, will look for a similar performance this weekend.
Minster’s boys didn’t qualify for state last year.
Rob Kiser is the sports editor of the Piqua Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.