By Ben Stroup
Sophomore Zach Kreft broke a course record on the way to a first-place finish and Gavin Shearer closed second to lead the Buckeye Valley boys cross country team to its sixth straight MOAC Red Division championship Saturday in Fredericktown.
“We were in second in the team scoring until the final mile, when we really stepped it up and made some important moves while going up the long hill of the race,” BV coach Nate Ritz said. “Zach ran solo pretty much from the gun and Gavin ran a really smart race. He made his move while charging up the long hill after the two-mile mark.”
Kreft won in 15:40.1 — a mark just a fraction away from his personal best (15:40.0). Shearer, meanwhile, slipped into the 16s for the first time in his career, nabbing runner-up honors in 16:58.4.
The Baron boys, who won the conference crown with 28 points, also got strong showings from Caleb Herriott (sixth in 17:43.2), Nathan Holst (ninth in 17:53.8) and Nathan Heiser (10th in 17:59.4).
Marion Harding finished second in the league with 41 points while North Union smoothed out the top three with 86.
The Baron girls finished fourth with 88 points. Kennedy Cramer (ninth in 21:18.5), Analise Lajeunesse (16th in 22:22.5), Michelle Culley (17th in 22:42.2) and Nina Hilt (18th in 22:46.4) led the way, earning All-MOAC honors in the process.
“We really came out mentally focused today … with both teams,” Ritz said. “This was the best we’ve looked all year, even with running on the most difficult terrain we’ve seen this season. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this week at districts.”
Hunter Moore and Brandon Morrow captured the top two spots, finishing first and second in respective times of 16:00.08 and 16:21.06 to lead the Orange boys cross country team to its first OCC-Capital Division title in program history Saturday in Pickerington.
Jackson Schiefelbein, Matt Hartzell and Tommy Heiden also had stellar runs, finishing sixth, eighth and 10th in 16:59.40, 16:59.74 and 17:10.00, respectively.
The Pioneer girls, led by Allison Guagenti’s first-place performance of 18:42.67, also won their first league title in program history.
Lindsey Ott joined Guagenti in the top three, finishing third in 19:37.88, while Grace Frye and Zoe Bond finished fifth and sixth in respective times of 20:18.24 and 20:20.36.
Olentangy’s boys and girls teams each finished second. The boys were led by Zach Balthaser (fourth in 16:34.35) and Anthony Sasso (fifth in 16:37.58) while the girls were paced by runner-up Lex Brookshire (19:24.59) and Melina Endsley (fourth in 20:11.23).
Hayes and Big Walnut were also in action. The Golden Eagles’ boys, led by Michael McGowan (29th in 18:09.81), finished sixth while the Pacers’ boys finished seventh. Justin Hernan led Hayes (23rd in 17:49.36).
In girls’ action, Hayes finished fourth and Big Walnut closed sixth.
The Pacers were led by Alicia Rittenour (seventh in 20:21.75) and Ashley Woller (eighth in 20:23.14) while the Eagles were powered by Leksi Murnieks (22nd in 21:33.02) and Jocelyn Lucas (33rd in 22:19.40).
Liberty’s girls finished second while the boys closed third during Saturday’s OCC-Central Championship in Hilliard.
Emma Bower led the Patriot girls, nabbing runner-up honors in 17:40.26, while Gracie Sprankle and Claire Linn finished third and fourth in respective times of 17:43.52 and 18:10.83.
The boys were led by Mitchell Towne (fifth in 15:52.45), Logan Boone (12th in 16:11.74) and John Ropchock (14th in 16:16.53).
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.