Kevin Goheen reports:
St. Xavier finished third in the boys’ race and Mason took fourth in the girls’ race Sunday afternoon at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest regional meet in Terre Haute, Ind.
The meet, held at the LaVern Gibson championship course, is one of nine regional competitions around the country and included 31 girls’ teams and 37 boys’ teams from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Michigan.
The top two teams and top five individuals not on qualifying teams in each region automatically qualify for the national finals to be run Dec. 1 in Portland, Ore. There will also be four at-large teams invited to each race. Those teams will be selected by a committee based on season-long resumes and performances
St. Xavier, which won the Division I state title on Nov. 3, is ranked No. 16 nationally by MileSplit.com and was undefeated this season prior to Sunday. Mason won the girls’ Division I state title, its first state championship, and is ranked No. 24 nationally by MileSplit.com. Only three of the regionals have been run thus far so neither team will know its fate until Nov. 24.
“The tough part will be having to sit around for two weeks, trying to train and not knowing if we’re going,” said St. Xavier coach Mike Dehring.
Temperatures were warm with overcast skies but winds gusted at more than a reported 20 mph, making for a lot of running into headwinds and slower times for many runners. There were 286 runners who completed the girls’ race, while 346 completed the boys’ race.
No. 12-ranked York (Ill.) won the boys’ race with 95 points, followed by Carmel (Ind.) with 162 and St. Xavier with 211. Mason’s boys placed 14th with 389 points. The Comets were second to St. Xavier at the state meet. Junior Michael Hall led St. Xavier in 30th place overall and 14th in the team race. Juniors Tom Clark and Zac Thompson came in 59th and 60th for Mason.
The Nike Cross Nationals is in its ninth year and York has now qualified for all nine finals. St. Xavier had beaten Carmel earlier in the season, a fact that Dehring hopes the at-large selection committee will take into consideration.
Top-ranked Carmel won the girls’ race with 91 points, followed by Naperville (Ill.) North with 107 points and New Tier (Ill.) with 125 points and then Mason with 151 points. Senior Lauren Wood continued her impressive postseason by placing seventh overall and missing an automatic individual berth by two places. Because race winner Ashley Erba of Indiana declined her spot and the runner who placed sixth, one spot ahead of Wood, is from New Tier there is still the possibility of Wood getting that trip to Portland should New Tier be awarded one of the at-large berths.
Wood’s fourth-place finish at the state meet led the Comets to a 100-point victory.
“We ran pretty well,” said Mason coach Chip Dobson. “Lauren has been outstanding. This is a tough field but she went out after it.”
Two other local runners placed in the top 30 of the girls’ race. Sycamore senior Sam Siler came in 15th overall, while Colerain senior Kristen Seiler was 29th.
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