Alyssa Ellerbrock of Columbus Grove sits on the podium in Saturday's State Cross Country Meet. (DHI Media/Wyatt Richardson)
Alyssa Ellerbrock of Columbus Grove sits on the podium in Saturday's State Cross Country Meet. (DHI Media/Wyatt Richardson)

HEBRON — The 91st annual boys and 42nd annual girls Ohio High School Athletic Association cross country championships were held Saturday at National Trails Raceway in Hebron on Saturday.

The first event of the day was the girl D-III which was welcomed by sunny blue skies and no wind. Addie Engel from Springfield Catholic jumped out to a big lead early and never looked back to win easily in 17:47 over Miranda Stanhope (18:21) of Badger. Minster won it’s 13th team title and 4th consecutive State title to edge West Liberty-Salem 79-89.

Closer to home, Alyssa Ellerbrock ran her final race for Columbus Grove and ended up on the podium with a 8th place finish in 18:53. With her top finish, Ellerbrock was named to the All-Ohio team which was her third time in her career along with 4 appearances at the State meet. The Lady Bulldogs finished 11th in the 20 team field at State which included Erin Downing (88th, 20:52), Leanndra Price (105th, 21:17), Ellie Keehn (116th, 21:34), Sydney Witteborg (131st, 22:05), Addsion Schafer (22:21), and Zoe Stechschulte (22:44).

“It was a great way to wrap up the season at State” said Columbus Grove girls head coach Jason Jay. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team and their accomplishments this season. It was great seeing the seniors getting to participate on the sports highest stage. Having Alyssa finish 8th was a lot of fun and well deserved. Seeing all the hard work and dedication pay off makes everything worthwhile” Jay concluded.

Another area athlete making a return visit to State in D-lll was Madison Langdon from Lincolnview. In her third visit to State, Langdon had a strong showing placing 50th in 20:08.

“We had a great week of practice and it was fun preparing for the State meet” explained her coach Matt Langdon. “Madison was ranked #50 going into the race and that’s where she ended up placing. The State race presents a unique challenge and you never quite know what you will get there. Madison ran really well and fought hard the entire race. I was proud of her season as well as her approach and effort at State. She is a fierce competitor and already excited about next season with a lot of goals. It was a blessing to be both Dad and coach at State which is a moment we will always cherish.”

Crestview’s Ragen Harting placed 65th with a time of 20:24.

Spencerville sophomore Lillee Stewart returned to State for the second straight season crossing the line in 20:57. “It’s always a special day when you can run in the State championships” said Bearcat coach Brian McMichael. “Lillee finished in 89th place which improved her 10 spots from last year. She had hoped to place higher but she had a successful 2019 season and has new goals set for next year.”

The Delphos St. Johns girl’ team made their first appearance in school history on Saturday.

Sophomore Kitty Kopack lead the Lady Jays with a 102nd place finish in 21:10. Other participants of the historic squad included Kambrynn Rohr (21:37), Jenia Freewalt (22:08), Rylee Pohlman (22:21), Adara Fuerst (22:46) and Abby Shafer (23:42).

The Blue Jays finished 19th in the final team standings. “The girls were a little disappointed in their finish today but I told them that there are about 170 teams in girls D-lll and we finished 19th out of all of them” explained St. Johns coach Steve Hellman. “I was pleased with their performances and even more thrilled by the turnout of fans that showed up to support them.”

In the D-II girls race, Van Wert’s Caylee Phillips returned to State for her final run as a Cougar.

Last season, Phillips won both the District and Regional titles on her way to the State championships where she placed 46th. This year, Phillips placed 6th at Regionals but worked on her race strategy with coach Ryan Holliday this week for the State meet.

“We made adjustments in her approach from last week and she executed them to a T,” said Holliday. “We wanted to get back to racing the way that gave her success in the past-being in front. As long as she kept herself in the race and covered moves, she knew she’d be in the perfect spot to make her move in the last mile. She coupled that strategy with a positive mindset with a normal approach to the race and it paid off. Her goal was to finish in the top 6 to get her picture on the wall in the high school.She ran her race, stayed engaged and accomplished what she set out to do. We were incredibly proud of her effort.”

Her final Cougar curtain call ended with a new school record (which she already owned) of 18:23 to cement her name in Van Wert school history.

Ella Gilson from Hawken won the girl’s individual D-ll title in 17:45 and Oakwood’s Grace Hartman was second in 17:58. Lexington won the team title with 83 points and Granville was a distant second with 170.

The only male from the area that qualified for the State meet was Kyle Roth from Parkway.

The Panther senior capped off his incredible career with a 33rd place finish running a blazing time of 16:50 in the boy’s D-lll event.

Derek Amicon from Grandview Heights won the D-III individual title in 15:42 and Demetrius Snellenberger of East Canton placed second in a close finish time of 15:44. Summit Country Day won the boys team title and Mount Gilead was runner-up.