Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
Mercer County Cross Country Meet
Parkway boys, St. Henry girls win team titles
By Gary R. Rasberry
ROCKFORD – Kyle Roth had motivation to win the high school boys race at the Mercer County Cross Country meet on Tuesday.
One bit of motivation was that the meet was on his home course at Parkway High School, marking the final time the senior would compete at home.
Another reason was that he wanted to continue his series of races against Coldwater’s Isaac Schoen, whom he competed against during the summer’s Mercer Health 5K Challenge.
But the most important motivation was his dedicating of the race to his late grandfather, who passed away several years ago before Roth began his running in junior high.
“He was one of the most influential people in my life,” said Roth after blistering the course to win the county race for the second straight season. “Knowing he was watching me on this course, although he’s never seen me run, it meant a lot to me to be that close.”
Early on, Roth was just a few lengths ahead of Schoen, but as he approached the final quarter-mile of racing, he had put some distance between himself and the rest of the field.
“I knew coming in there would be competition,” said Roth. “I knew at the second mile was when runners would start to feel it. I knew I had to get that distance (of separation).”
Roth crossed the line in 16:42.77, breaking the county meet record and his own personal best, although Roth said he missed the school record for a senior runner by two seconds.
Schoen finished second at 17:20.90, just over 38 seconds behind Roth. Celina’s Jacob Klosterman was third with Fort Recovery’s Drew Muhlenkamp fourth and Parkway’s Aaron Bruns fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Celina’s Ethan Ly, Marion Local’s Aaron Broering, Celina’s John Robinson, Parkway’s Riley Samples and St. Henry’s Nolan Fullenkamp.
The host Panthers placed their first five runners inside the top 20 – and the first seven runners inside the top 30 – to capture the county team title with 49 points. Celina was second with 57 with Marion Local (84), Fort Recovery (89), Coldwater (106) and St. Henry (111) rounding out the scoring.
“We’re trying to get them up there,” said Parkway coach Ann Vian of the team’s pack running. “Kyle and Aaron went to state (with the team) three years ago when they were freshmen and they want to go back as a team. Kyle has been there the last two years, but he said it’s not the same as going together as a team. They would like to do that one more time.”
The high school girls race was also a battle for most of the race as Coldwater’s Haley Alig was in an early pack with Celina freshman Kaylie Dameron, St. Henry’s Katie Kunkler and Marion Local’s Kelsey Broering. Alig was able to put some distance between herself and the field over the final mile to win with a time of 19:43.83, just under 15 seconds ahead of Kaylie Dameron. Kunkler was third with Broering fourth and Celina’s Joscelyn Dameron taking fifth.
“It was really good competition and I really enjoyed it,” said Alig, who finished second to Fort Recovery’s Chloe Will in the 2018 meet. “They really had me thinking how to approach the last lap so I could figure out my strategy.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were Marion Local’s Maria Heckman, St. Henry’s Lauren Hemmelgarn and Ashley Bruns, Celina’s Zoey Aukerman and St. Henry’s Leah Heitkamp.
Solid pack running gave St. Henry the girls team title with 45 points as the top five Redskin runners finished in the top 17 and the top seven were in the top 24. Celina was second with 74 points to edge Marion, which tied with Fort Recovery with 79 points but won the sixth-runner tiebreaker 34-35. Coldwater was fifth with 95 with the host Panthers taking sixth with 122.
“Definitely better than county meets in the past for our team,” said Redskins coach Angie Wendel. “Kate was actually a little over a second off her PR, which is fabulous. Even at the mile, we knew she was running well.”
In the middle school two-mile races, Coldwater’s boys and Fort Recovery’s girls captured team titles. The Indians swept the individual medalist honors as Trevor Heitkamp won the boys two-miler and Ellie Will won the girls race.
The county teams will be in action at the Wright State University-Lake Campus on Saturday for the annual Celina Rotary Invitational.