By Ben Stroup
Olentangy Orange junior Hunter Moore and Buckeye Valley sophomore Zach Kreft made the most of their Saturdays, nabbing individual titles at the Central District Cross Country Championships hosted by Watkins Memorial High School.
Moore won the Division I, Section 3 race in 15:26.27, qualifying for next weekend’s regional rung of competition in the process. Kreft, meanwhile, took the top spot in the Division II race in 15:35.14 — a mark good enough to break his own school record and the D-II course record (previous best was 15:58 set by River Valley’s Zach Lathrop in 2008).
Orange, which also got solid contributions from Brandon Morrow (seventh in 15:55.57), Tommy Heiden (22nd in 16:39.21) and Jackson Schiefelbein (25th in 16:43.36), qualified for the next round as a team, finishing tied for second with 92 points.
Buckeye Valley, thanks to the top-20 efforts of Kreft, Gavin Shearer (11th in 16:54.77) and Caleb Herriott (17th in 17:32.66), also qualified for regionals with a runner-up district showing.
Liberty and Olentangy, which finished fourth and sixth with respective point totals of 107 and 193 in the D-I, Section 3 race, also qualified for regionals as teams.
Mitchell Towne (ninth in 16:03.82) and John Ropchock (18th in 16:29.18) both finished in the top 20 to lead the Patriots while Anthony Sasso and Zach Balthaser led the Braves, finishing 12th and 15th in respective times of 16:16.19 and 16:23.56.
In Section 2, Hayes, led by Justin Hernan’s 59th-place performance (17:59.34) finished 12th with 351 points to see its season come to a close.
Big Walnut, meanwhile, was 13th in Section 3 with 325 points. Jacob Hutchinson was the Golden Eagles’ top runner, finishing 38th in 17:09.94.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
The Olentangy Liberty girls won their second straight district crown Saturday, nabbing the top three individual spots while claiming the team title at the Division I Central District Cross Country Championships.
Emma Bower led the Patriots, winning the Section 1 race in 17:53.14. Teammates Gracie Sprankle and Claire Linn finished right behind her, closing second and third in respective times of 18:05.86 and 18:47.18.
Orange and Olentangy earned spots in the upcoming regional race as well, finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the Section 2 race.
The Pioneers were paced by Allison Guagenti, who finished second among individuals in 18:12.80. Lindsay Ott (ninth in 19:26.39) and Zoe Bond (15th in 19:52.93) were also solid.
The Braves were boosted by Lex Brookshire (fifth in 18:55.58) and Melina Endsley (12th in 19:35.01).
Hayes also competed in the Section 2 race and, while failing to advance as a team — finishing seventh with 203 points — the Pacers’ Alicia Rittenour and Ashley Woller kept their seasons alive with top-20 finishes. Rittenour closed 14th in 19:49.06 while Woller finished 16th in 19:55.03.
Big Walnut, led by Leksi Murnieks (50th in 20:27.89), saw its season come to a close with a 16th-place finish in the Section 3 race.
In Division II, Buckeye Valley finished sixth. Kennedy Cramer led the Barons, finishing 22nd in 21:27.24.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.