By David Fong
HEBRON — The Tippecanoe boys and girls cross country teams took very different paths to the same finish Saturday during the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Cross Country Championships at National Trail Raceway.
Both ended up placing second to Lexington, which swept the Division II meets, but that’s where the similarities ended.
The Tippecanoe boys were expected to contend for a state title, while the Tippecanoe girls were more of a pleasant surprise. The Tippecanoe boys were led by Mitchell Poynter, who placed second overall, while the Tippecanoe girls used strong pack running and did not have a runner finish in the top 25.
Lexington won the boys race with 54 points, while Tippecanoe was second with 77. Tippecanoe finished second two years ago and won the state title last season.
“That’s a pretty good three-year run, to go second, first and second,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said. “We ran a good race — for us to have all seven guys finish in 17 minutes and not win state is pretty incredible. I don’t know if that’s ever happened before.”
Poynter led the Red Devils by placing second in 15:24.1. Tim Andrews was 27th in 16:25.1, Thomas Chaney was 28th in 16:25.7, Keenan Fraylick was 39th in 16:35.6, Jacob Stillwagon was 47th in 16:44.1, Spencer Ranft was 60th in 16:55.0 and Jordan Brown was 68th in 17:00.0.
“We lose quite a bit now,” Kimmel said. “But we’ve got a great foundation here now. We don’t look at it as rebuilding, but we are definitely going to have to reload.”
While the Tippecanoe boys will be looking to reload, the Tippecanoe girls are just getting started on what has the potential to be a long and impressive run. Three of the Red Devils’ top five runners are freshmen, while one is a sophomore and one is a junior.
Lexington won the girls race with 64 points, while Tippecanoe was second with 125.
“We knew they had the potential to be good this year — but I don’t know if we thought they’d be a state runner-up this year,” Kimmel said. “They did an outstanding job.”
Kaili Titley finished 27th in 19:20.1 to lead the Red Devils. Katie Taylor was 32nd in 19:26.9, Abbi Halsey was 39th in 19:31.3, Stephanie Fink was 43rd in 19:33.2, Laura Fink was 47th in 19:35.7, MaKenzie Dietz was 51st in 19:40.1 and Emily Wolfe was 95th in 20:41.1.
“If you had told me we would have finished as the state runner-up without having an All-Ohio (top 16) runner, I would have said you were crazy,” Kimmel said. “No way. This was just great pack running. This was a total team effort. It’s a great testament to pack running. It’s a much different approach than the boys team.”
Different, but equally successful.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong