Olentangy Liberty and host Buckeye Valley had plenty to smile about after Saturday’s Baron Blast cross country meet in Delaware.
The Patriot boys picked up top team honors while the Barons’ Zach Kreft nabbed individual bragging rights as the first runner to cross the finish line.
Kreft, a junior, finished in 16:42.87. BV’s Gavin Shearer wasn’t far behind, finishing third among individuals with a time of 17:19.72.
“The boys have some large goals this season and this was a great way to start,” Buckeye Valley coach Nate Ritz said. “We’ve always had good summers in terms of training, but the focus and work put in this summer by our top-end group was more than we’ve seen in the past … this is going to set us up for a nice fall.”
Liberty didn’t have anyone in the top three, but picked up the title thanks to what was easily the most consistent all-around effort among the seven teams in action.
The Patriots, led by the fifth-place effort of Bradley Raymond (17:52.51), had seven runners finish in the top 11 — Ryan Milligan (17:52.73), Joseph Johnson III (17:52.99), Logan Boone (17:53.33), Adam Clark (17:53.56), Andrew Boggs (17:53.82) and Nicholas Anderson (17:54. 12).
North Union, Bellefontaine, Lakewood, Jonathan Alder and Centerburg finished third through seventh, respectively.
In girls’ action, Buckeye Valley finished third behind Centerburg and runner-up Bellefontaine.
Kennedy Cramer led the Barons, finishing ninth among individuals in 22:36.15. Other BV standouts included Lane Graham (12th in 22:50. 69) and Analise Lajeunesse (14th in 23:04.95).
“The girls beat a few MOAC schools that consistently beat us in the past,” Ritz said. “The team is on the rise and it’s exciting to see their confidence begin to build.”
Pickerington North Classic
Orange and Liberty were all over the top three at Saturday’s showcase in Pickerington.
The Patriot and Pioneer girls finished first and third in the Panther Division, respectively, while Orange’s boys nabbed runner-up honors in their race.
Gracie Sprankle and Emma Bower led Liberty, posting the two fastest times among the 300-plus girls in action with respective efforts of 19:09.24 and 19:13.42.
Orange’s Allison Guagenti finished third among individuals with a time of 19:38.29.
The Pioneers’ Hunter Moore won the boys’ race, claiming the top spot in 15:43.90.
Dan Reid Invitational
Big Walnut’s girls finished fourth and the boys closed seventh at Saturday’s Dan Reid Invitational in Whitehall.
Colbi Borland was the BW girls’ top finisher, crossing the line sixth overall in 21:05.01. William Hefner led the Golden Eagle boys, finishing 13th among individuals in 18:17.03.
John Fair Invitational
Olentangy freshman Piper Biziorek and senior Anthony Sasso won individual titles at Saturday’s John Fair Invitational in Mount Vernon, finishing in respective times of 20:09.5 and 16:13.1.
The Braves took the top five spots in the girls’ race as Lex Brookshire (20:37.0), Melina Endsley (20:48.8), Meghan Boggess (21:14.5) and Gracie James (21.27.8) joined Biziorek in leading Olentangy to the team title.
The Braves’ boys, meanwhile, finished second as a team.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.