Kevin Goheen reports:
Tom Rapp measured 3½ inches of rain from Friday’s overnight storms at his home in Mason. His rain gauge showed another inch fell Saturday morning.
The cross country course at Corwin Nixon Park is challenging enough with its combination of flat lands, hills and jumps over hay bales and creeks, but adding mud to the mix only increased the challenge.
- Photos: Mason Cross Country Invitational
Rapp’s Mason boys’ team handled the elements and a field of 189 runners the best to capture the Division I team title at the Mason Cross Country Invitational for the first time since 2009 with 73 points.
The Comets, ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer’s Division I coaches’ poll and No.3 in the state poll, beat Lawrence North (Ind.) by six points with a pack effort that saw just 29 seconds separating their first six runners.
“It’s a source of pride because we haven’t won it the last couple of years and we train in that part almost daily,” said Rapp. “The course deteriorated throughout the day, as we knew it would, but our guys did a good job of handling it. You could either complain about the footing or go out and beat the guy next to you who’s also struggling with the footing. Our guys handled it.”
Senior Alex Notten placed sixth overall with a time of 17:08 over the 3.1-mile course. Joey Stimler (13th), Zac Thompson (15th), Tom Clark (19th), Dylan McElhenny (20th) and Nick Grismer (23rd) rounded out Mason’s top six runners.
Elder, Turpin, Sycamore and Anderson placed 6-9, respectively, in the team race. Turpin junior Alaeldin Tirba placed one spot behind Notten in 17:16, while Sycamore junior Tallin Forshey (17:18) finished 11th and LaSalle senior Jacob McNamara (17:19.72) was 12th.
The girls’ Division I race was dominated by Carmel (Ind.), ranked No.10 nationally by ESPNRise. Carmel took five of the top eight spots to score 22 points. Host Mason, ranked No.1 locally and in the state, took an early season battle with state-ranked No.2 Beavercreek to finish as the runner-up, 82-117.
Senior Lauren Wood led the Comets with a ninth-place finish in 19:40. Junior Emily Schlimm and freshman Maegan Murphy finished consecutively in 20:06 to come in 13th and 14th overall.
Sycamore senior Sam Siler was the top local finisher, crossing the line in 19:23 to place sixth, two seconds ahead of Lebanon junior Jacquelyn Crow.
Last year Siler missed much of her summer training due to mononucleosis and she said she never felt as if she fully recovered. She feels 100 percent healthy now, as evidenced by her winning the OHSAA’s preseason invitational three weeks ago.
“I was in it to win and I really wanted to see what I could do and establish a precedent for the rest of the season,” said Siler. “The meets have all been pretty good for me.”
Oak Hills freshman Sydney Kilgore placed 10th in 19:56, one spot ahead of Ursuline junior Christine Frederick (19:59).
A pair of local seniors won the two Division II races.
Finneytown’s Alex Hughes won the boys’ race in 17:23. It was his second win at Mason in the last three years. Sophomore Eric Baugh of Villa Madonna was third in 17:40. Covington Catholic placed second in the team race with 121 points. Wyoming was fourth with 141 points and Mariemont was seventh with 195 points.
Taylor senior McKenzie McDaniel won the girls’ race in 20:54, while Finneytown junior Jaylah Howell placed third in 21:18.
Indian Hill, behind freshman Rhian Horton’s eighth-place finish, was third in the team race with 133 points, just ahead of Cincinnati Hills League rivals Mariemont (143) and Wyoming (175).