The St. John's girls cross country team advanced to Tiffin Regionals for the second year in a row by placing second at the Columbus Grove District Championships.  Members of the Lady Jays squad are Adara Fuerst, Kitty Kopack, Abby Shafer, Kambrynn Rohr, Jenia Freewalt, and Rylee Pohlman. (DHI Media/Larry Heiing)
The St. John's girls cross country team advanced to Tiffin Regionals for the second year in a row by placing second at the Columbus Grove District Championships. Members of the Lady Jays squad are Adara Fuerst, Kitty Kopack, Abby Shafer, Kambrynn Rohr, Jenia Freewalt, and Rylee Pohlman. (DHI Media/Larry Heiing)
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COLUMBUS GROVE -- The run to Columbus began Saturday at the Columbus Grove Cross Country Championships for D-III athletes.

In order to move onto to the next round, which is Regionals, a runner must either finish individually in the top 12 of their race or be on a team that places in the top 3.

The sunny day began with the girls D-III, District 1 race which featured perennial power Minster. But it was Taylor Spencer from Waynesfield-Goshen that stole the show winning the individual title in 18:30 easily defeating Coldwater’s Haley Alig (18:54). Placing 7th after 4 consecutive Minster runners was Kambrynn Rohr from Delphos St. Johns with a time of 20:30. The Lady Jays placed five runners in the top 20 including Kitty Kopack (11th, 20:57), Rylee Pohlman (12th, 21:37), and Jenia Freewalt (13th, 21:41). Adara Fuerst (19th, 22:19) and Abby Shafer (30th, 23:44) completed the girls line-up for St. Johns.

Minster easily won the District 1 team title with only 26 points. St. Johns placed second as a team for the first time since 1997 to advance to Regionals for the second consecutive year. Coldwater finished third with 73 and New Bremen (89) was fourth as the Midwest Athletic Conference dominated the final standings.

Another state powered team flexed their muscle in the second race as host Columbus Grove won the District 2 girl’s team title lead by the 1-2 finish of Alyssa Ellerbrock (18:49) and Erin Downing (20:04). Leanndra Price (20:10) placed 4th, Ellie Keehn (10th, 21:10), Addison Schafer (11th, 21:16), and Sydney Wittenborg (12th, 21:40) also finished in the top 12 for the Bulldogs.

Columbus Grove won the girl’s team title with 24 points to easily defeat runner-up St. Henry (52). Ft. Recovery was third with 83 points as five teams from the M.A.C. will move onto the next round of racing.

Spencerville sophomore Lillee Stewart (20:21) placed 5th to advance with Paige Hoersten (20:33) of Ottoville who’s 8th place finish punched her ticket to Regionals.

In the boy’s District 1 race, Columbus Grove took the top 4 spots to complete the sweep by both Bulldog squads. Carson Closson stayed just of his Columbus Grove running mate, Caleb Stechschulte around the entire Bulldog Athletic Facility course to win the individual title in 16:37. Stechschulte (16:42) was second, followed by Breece Pingle (3rd, 17:02) and Trent Koch (4th, 17:05). Roy Langhals (13th, 17:39), Derek Birkemeier (19th, 18:02), and Tanner Smith (22nd, 18:29) completed the Bulldog’s championship roster.

A pair of Kalida Wildcats also will be racing for another week as Ryan Lucke (7th, 17:20) and Will Zeller(10th, 17:30) advanced to the Tiffin Regionals.

In fact, the finish line inside Columbus Grove’s Clymer Stadium resembled a Putnam County League meet as P.C.L. runners took 8 of the top 12 positions that qualified for Regionals.

Ottoville’s Nolan German continued his stellar season finishing 5th behind the Bulldog quad with a time of 17:06. Fellow Big Green runner, Kyle Looser will be joining German next week thanks to his time of 17:35 to land in the 12th and final spot.

The Delphos St. John’s boy’s team failed to advance any runners to next week but still had a strong showing and gained valuable experience as sophomore Marcus Freewalt actually lead the District 1 race for the first half mile. Freewalt finished with a time of 18:30 to place 23rd. Classmate Drew Plate ended his outstanding season with a top 20 finish rounding the 5000 meter course in 18:10. Senior Noah Heiing’s Blue Jay cross country career came to an end as he finished with a time of 19:38 for the second consecutive week to place 34th. Finally, Zane Stevenson continued his season long improvement and finished on a high note, personal best time of 21:32.

The Columbus Grove boy’s dominance showed in the final team standings for District 1 as the Bulldogs took the team trophy with 23 points. Waynesfield-Goshen was a distant second with 106 just edging third place Bluffton (107). Kalida was on the outside as team finishing fourth with 112 points and Ottoville (112) was fifth.

The final event of the day was the best as Alex Alberts from Minster battled Perry’s Brady Yingst in the boys District 2 race. Alberts pulled away in the third mile to win the title in 16:12 and Yingst (16:29) ended in the second spot.

Parkway placed 3 runners in the top 10 positions as the Panthers will be well represented next weekend at Tiffin. Kyle Roth had a battle of his own for third place running alongside Coldwater’s Isaac Schoen for most of the course before edging the Cavalier at the finish line by .04 seconds. Roth finished with a time of 16:45.5 and Schoen (16:45.9) was fourth. Aaron Bruns landed in the 8th spot with a 17:17 effort and Blake Strickler finished with a time of 17:29 and to finish 10th but more importantly move onto next week. Riley Samples (26th, 19:01), Gage Hemrick (36th, 19:36), Colby Bentz (44th, 20:13.3) and Cade Schoenleben (47th, 20:13.7) rounded out the Panther boy’s team.

The Parkway Panther boy’s team will be competing at the Regionals next week by finishing second on Saturday with 76 points. Minster won the District 2 boys title with 40 points. Fellow M.A.C. school, Marion Local will also be moving on by finishing third with 106 points.

Regionals will be held next Saturday at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin.