OBETZ, Ohio — Perrysburg girls cross country was unable to defend its Division I state championship from last year, but a fourth-place finish is the second best in school history.
Out of 20 teams qualifying for the meet Saturday at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park, Mason won the team title with 75 points, followed by Hilliard Davidson (91), Westlake (151) and Perrysburg (193).
“I think we’re satisfied,” said Perrysburg coach Jon Monheim. “Obviously after winning last year, you want to keep doing that, but that is hard to do every year.
“Ultimately, to finish fourth is good. In years past, we would have killed for a fourth, so I think once it sets in, I think fourth is special. I think it is rewarding,” he said. “There were two real good teams that have been good all year that showed up today. They just ran well, and we had a good solid race.
“We went in as the fourth-ranked team and that is where we came out. To win a state meet like we did last year you to have an incredibly special day. That only happens every once in a while.”
Monheim said weather factored in, but it factored in for everybody.
“It was crazy windy, but thankfully the sun wasn’t out,” Monheim said. “Just a little warm and windy, but it was a good day. Due to the wind, the race was slower than usual from a time perspective.”
Perrysburg sophomore Natalie Sanders is All-Ohio after finishing in 18:40.3, good enough for 14th out of 172 runners.
“She ran the race of her life. It was well-deserved,” Monheim said.
Perrysburg junior Hannah Kersten finished in 19:31.6 (55th), senior AnnaSophia Gower crossed in 19:43.1 (67th), followed by senior Sage Colon (71st, 19:51.2), junior Sydney Daudelin (81st, 20:00.6), junior Taylor Moody (82nd, 20:00.8) and sophomore Ava Beeks (112th, 20:20).
Monheim said his girls worked hard to get to this point, and with 53 girls in the program, just making the cut to compete for Perrysburg in the state meet is a challenge.
“I don’t think people realize these girls started the first Monday in June and they run five days a week all through the summer, and then six to seven days once the season starts,” Monheim said.
“If you don’t do the sport of cross country or never have done it you don’t quite understand the work involved,” he said. “We have a really big team and a really competitive team, so not only do they have to show up every day, but they have to work hard every day because otherwise they are going to lose a varsity spot.
“So, the girls who competed for us today, not only did they deal with practicing and this and that, but they also have to be mentally on their game just to make our top seven. It’s a solid program.”
Monheim says despite over four dozen girls competing for seven spots, the entire group has good camaraderie.
“Any team that finishes high at the state meet, they have to like each other. We didn’t have a perfect day and a few kids didn’t have good days, but other girls picked up and ran above their normal. It was a good team effort,” Monheim said.
Rounding out the team standings were Loveland (221), Dublin Jerome (226), Lakota West (236), Beavercreek (243), Shaker Heights (249), Medina (278), Richfield Revere (293), Avon (296), Rocky River (320), Centerville (327), Mentor (349), Cleveland St. Joseph (354), Olentangy Liberty (359), Olentangy Orange (372) and Toledo Notre Dame (430).
The Yellow Jackets breezed through the Northern Lakes League, district and regional tournaments, winning all three. Monheim has most of his team returning next year.
“We knew that the NLL, district and regional were going to be pretty non-competitive so we tried to have a tough schedule leading up to that. We raced good teams throughout the year,” Monheim said.
“It was the second-best season in the history of the school. I still consider us to be a young team. We had two seniors today, but to bring five back and have a lot of depth, we have big hopes for the next few years as well.”