Ottoville senior Brendan Siefker (green) battles with Liberty Center’s Cameron Stark for second place in Saturday’s Division III State Cross Country boys race at Hebron. Siefker finished his last high school cross country race in second place, repeating his performance from the 2016 race. (DHI Media/Charlie Warnimont)
Ottoville senior Brendan Siefker (green) battles with Liberty Center’s Cameron Stark for second place in Saturday’s Division III State Cross Country boys race at Hebron. Siefker finished his last high school cross country race in second place, repeating his performance from the 2016 race. (DHI Media/Charlie Warnimont)

HEBRON — The goal of runners at the state cross country meet are to end the season on the best note possible.

For Ottoville’s Brendan Siefker and Columbus Grove’s Alyssa Ellerbrock, they did just that Saturday at the Division III state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway.

Both Siefker and Ellerbrock ran to all-Ohio honors in their respective races at the championships.

Siefker finished his high school cross country career as the state runner-up in the boys Division III race. It was the second straight season Siefker has been the runner-up in the boys Division III race.

After his runner-up finish in 2016 at state, Siefker was back at state this year to try and improve on that finish, although he knew the individual championship would go through Colonel Crawford senior Chad Johnson, the defending state champion.

The 2017 state run finished the same as 2016 as Johnson got out quickly and pulled away from the Big Green standout to repeat as state champion with a time of 15:33.3 as Siefker was second in 15:45.5. Liberty Center senior Cameron Stark finished third in 15:50.9.

“This year, (finishing in) top two was really my goal,” Siefker said. “I wanted to give Johnson a good run. He led it pretty well at the first mile. I just kind of respected that and settled into my own race and finished second, so I was really happy with that.”

Although he wanted a win in his final high school race, Siefker knew that if he tried to keep pace with Johnson it could hurt his finish as well.

“Once you get gapped that much early, it’s kind of hard to get back in it,” Siefker said. “You kind of have to make an important decision early in the race; ‘Am I going to try and run with him when he does that, or am I going to run my race’. It’s kind of risky because if I run with him, maybe I will have a better shot. On the flip side, maybe you could die out, too. I just went with what I felt today and I decided to run my pace.”

Saturday was Siefker’s third trip to the state finals and he made all-Ohio all three times as he was seventh as a sophomore and second the last two years.

Columbus Grove sophomore Johnny Schmiedebusch finished 52nd in his first visit to the state meet. Schmiedebusch ran a time of 16:56.2.

Ellerbrock, a sophomore, turned in a solid performance Saturday as she finished 15th in the girls Division III race. Ellerbrock ran a time of 19:17.4, which was 39.4 seconds behind race winner Emma Watcke of Minster. Ellerbrock finished 69th as a freshman at the state meet.

“I was really hoping to get on the podium,” Ellerbrock said. “That was the goal. Every person I passed, I thought that was one more spot I could move up. There are certain spots on the course where you can count how many people are in front of you, so I knew about where I was and how many people I needed to pass.”

As a team, the Bulldogs finished eighth with 235 points. Last season, the Lady Bulldogs finished 10th in the Division III standings.

Erin Downing was the second Bulldog to cross the finish line as she was 84th in 20:43, Taylor Ellerbrock was 98th (20:56.8), while Leanndra Price was 95th (20:52.6) and Sydney Witteborg was 104th (21:03.5). Morgan Deffenabugh was 157th (22:19.1) and Allie Choi was 167th (22:42.7).

“We had a goal of being top five but as you get down here to state, everything is close, everything is real tight,” Bulldog coach Jason Jay said. “Eighth is nothing to hang your head about. We finished 10th last year, so we moved up the ranks; hopefully we can put everything together and be back next year.”

Kalida senior Taylor Lucke finished 56th in 20:17.1.

Lincolnview’s boys team finished 14th in the 20-team Division III field with 329 points.

The Lacers were led by junior Karter Tow as he was 57th in 16:59.3 followed by junior Jacob Keysor in 17:25.5 and junior Alek Bowersock in 94th at 17:27.6. Devon Bill finished 126th in 17:55.4, Joe Sadowski was 145th in 18:21.6, Noah Daeger, the lone senior, was 175th in 19:32.4 and Evan Cox was 180th in 19:50.3.

“The boys were 14th and we were 15th coming in,” Lancer coach Matt Langdon said. “We had a very solid race today. All our kids ran really consistent today; our fifth boy, Joe Sadowski, actually PR’ed, which I think a lot of kids were unable to do and that allowed us to move up one spot.”

Parkway had a pair of individuals competing at state as sophomore Kyle Roth was 64th in 17:05.01, which was 36 spots better than what he finished last year when the Panthers competed as a team. Junior teammate Matt Gaerke finished 111th in 17:38.5, which was several spots below what he finished in 2016.

Van Wert’s boys team finished 13th in the 20-team Division II field Saturday with 329 points. That was the neighborhood where coach Ryan Holliday felt his team would finish unless they turned in a spectacular race Saturday.

“Honestly, we knew coming in we could finish 10th to 15th, somewhere in that range; that’s about where we should have finished,” Holliday said. “We thought if we put together a really great race we could crack the top 10. If we were below 15, it probably wasn’t a great day. Thirteenth for us is good. I was pleased with that.”

Freshman Jacob Wasson led the Cougars as he was 31st in 16:43.6. Junior Calahan Wolfrum finished 106th in 17:24.5, junior Gage Chiles was 115th (17:32.5), sophomore Holden Reichart was 120th (17:37.8) and sophomore Keaton Brown was 124th in 17:40.8. Sophomore Charlie Pauquette was 161st in 18:32.8 and senior Max Sealscott was 171st in 19:13.7.

“We had a lot of solid races from our guys. For most of these guys, except one, it’s their first state meet experience,” Holliday said. “To have a good solid day, even though our goal was top 10, we can walk away with our heads held high because we ran a solid day and had a tremendous season, especially the last month. It makes us hungry to get back here and do even better.”

The Lincolnview girls finished 20th in the 20-team Division III field with 397 points.

Freshman Madison Langdon led the Lady Lancers with a 73rd-place finish in 20:32.7. Sophomore Victoria Snyder was 114th in 21:14.2, junior Brayden Langdon was 123rd in 21:23.4, junior Madelina Snyder was 134th in 21:32.9 and senior Alena Looser was 156th in 22:19.1. Freshman Dylann Carey was 169th in 22:45.1 and junior Rylee Byrne was 175th in 23:20.8.

“The girls finished 20th; it was really close. We were 18th coming in and were 11 points from that,” coach Langdon said. “The girls ran really solid. What they had to do last week to get here was really phenomenal; we knew it would be hard to repeat that today. They had a really solid race for us and I was happy for them; they had a great experience. None of those girls had run on the state course before; that’s a difficult task to ask. They are young, with just one senior; we are hoping that motivates them for next year.

“It’s been a fun week with both teams coming down, not a normal routine, with all the attention for both teams. We had a great time, the kids ran hard and ran a solid race. We preach all year it’s just a normal race but this week was far from our routine. We are looking to build both of these teams; we really weren’t supposed to be here this year, so we are a year ahead of schedule and hope this springboards us to come down here next year and hopefully be somewhere in the top 10.”

Crestview sophomore Ragen Harting finished 57th in 20:17.7.