Big day for Liberty Center cross country teams

By KEVIN EIS Published:

SPENCERVILLE -- Several area Division III boys and girls cross country teams and a handful of individuals made the regional cut on Saturday at the Spencerville District cross country meet.

Broken down into three districts in both the boys and girls divisions, the top four teams and top 16 individuals not already on a qualifying squad in each of the six total races will be moving on to the next leg of the postseason. Winning teams and individuals from District 1 and District 2 will now move on to the Tiffin Regional, while boys qualifiers from District 3 will advance to the Youngstown Regional and the District 3 girls winners will be headed to regional at Troy on Saturday.

The Liberty Center girls opened the day by capturing its fourth consecutive district title behind a first-place finish by freshman Brittany Atkinson, running away from the field with a time of 18:30.8. The LC girls' low score of 32 in District 1 was good enough to finish 28 points in front of district runner-up Liberty Benton, which finished the race with 60 points.

"Today the girls really accepted the challenge of defending their consecutive district titles," lauded LC mentor Tim Atkinson. "We were very aggressive from the start of the race and formed our packs within the first mile," Brittany Atkinson ran very well today. This has been a very emotional week for her with the loss of her uncle, but she really responded well and ran a very focused race."

Packing in for respective fourth, fifth and sixth-place showings were Liberty Center harriers Kelly Haubert, Chelsea Knapp and Paige Chamberlain. Jessica Doepker and Jackie Gardner of Kalida finished second and 16th to make the individual cut.

"Kelly Haubert, Chelsea Knapp and Paige Chamberlain also ran really well and achieved first team all-district along with Brittany," said Atkinson. "In 23 years as a cross country coach, I have never had my top four runners finish in the top seven at a district championship. To witness that today was really special."

Liberty Center will also be represented at Tiffin by its boys pack, which placed second to Coldwater in District 1 due to a strong seventh-place finish by Joe Seedorf followed eight seconds later by Jake Atkinson in the eighth spot.

"Last year our team graduated four out of our top seven runners, so to come out today and run as well as we did a year ago was fantastic," praised Atkinson of his boys' pack. "This week we are going to continue to focus on improving pack as we're going to be facing some of the top teams in the state at the Tiffin Regional. The guys are really looking forward to the challenge."

Pettisville finished third and Fairview took fourth in the District 1 team standings to also punch regional tickets to Tiffin. While Coldwater senior Mike Seas ran away from the pack with a time of 15:48.8, Fairview junior Kyle Thomas was the individual runner-up, crossing the line about 58 seconds behind the Coldwater standout. Meanwhile, Dominic Frey paced Pettisville with a 10th-place standing as Tanner Rufenacht came in 11th.

Fairview earned a regional trip in the girls District 2 race with a fourth-place effort behind champion Coldwater, runner-up Spencerville and Fort Recovery. Leading the Lady Apaches was freshman Malin Adams in 16th place, while Krysten King (23rd), Samantha Rhodes (30th) Desiree Ankney (32nd) and Olivia Breininger (35th) packed together well enough to lead their team out of Spencerville.

Ayersville junior Hannah McKibben (4th), Pettisville senior Tanner Hostetler (13th) and Lindsey Matthews (16th) of Wayne Trace advanced out of the girls event as individuals, while junior Sam Lehman of Tinora was the only area boys qualifier in the District 2 boys race.

In District 3, Antwerp squeezed into third place in the team standings paced by a 12th-place finish by freshman Bailee Sigman and a 13th-place finish by senior Ellise Wetli to qualify for the Troy Regional along with district champion Minster, Lima Central Catholic and fourth-place St. Henry.

Meanwhile, Archbold and Stryker placed third and fourth in the District 3 boys team finals to punch their tickets to the regional tournament at Youngstown. Columbus Grove captured the District 3 crown with 45 points - just seven points in front of runner-up Liberty-Benton.

The junior duo of Jake Graham and Alex Shafer took the top two individual spots to lead Columbus Grove to its district crown. Graham led the field with a time of 16:45.4.

Archbold was led by strong runs from Bryce Tinsman (5th), Adrian Ramirez (10th), Alex Hurst (14th), Zeb Frank (19th) and Chan Tinsman (23rd), while Stryker was paced by senior Conner Frey (6th), Luke Graber (8th) and Dean Beamont (22nd).

Also qualifying from the area as an individual out of District 3 was Connor Schmenk of Kalida in 13th place.

At Spencerville

Boys Meet

District 1

Coldwater 29, Liberty Center 66, Pettisville 108, Fairview 130, Lima Central Catholic 149, Ayersville 150, Hilltop 189, Spencerville 220, Marion Local 237, Edgerton 261, Antwerp 269, Patrick Henry 299, Evergreen 371, Holgate 392

Top 10 Individuals

Mike Seas (C), 15:48.8; Kyle Thomas (F); Zach Muhlenkamp (C); John Wenning (C); Zach Smith (Hilltop); Riley Kuess (C); Joe Seedorf (LC); Jake Atkinson (LC); Brady Livensparger (Hilltop); Dominic Frey (P).

District 2

St. Henry 36, Minster 66, Crestview 104, Lincolnview 109, Parkway 171, Fayette 182, Tinora 214, Wayne Trace 237, Bluffton 250, Allen East 254, New Knoxville 257, Ottoville 274, Riverdale 319

Top 10 Individuals

Cameron Strunk (P), 16:46; Aaren Hemmelgarn (SH); Francis Slonkosky (M); Isaac Kuntz (M); Joel Genter (C); Kevin Knapke (SH); Spencer Schulze (SH); Mycah Grandstaff (C); Doug Lefeld (SH); Jonathan Nisly (B).

Other Area Qualifiers

11. Sam Lehman (T).

District 3

Columbus Grove 45, Liberty-Benton 52, Archbold 71, Stryker 115, New Bremen 123, Kalida 132, Fort Recovery 158, Hicksville 220, Edon 264, Waynesfiled-Goshen 304

Top 10 Individuals

Jake Graham (CG), 16:45.4; Alex Shafer (CG); Eric Duvall (L-B); Joseph Sherrieb (L-B); Bryce Tinsman (A); Conner Frey (S); Cole Newman (L-B); Luke Graber (S); Colton Grothaus (CG); Adrian Ramirez (A).

Other Area Qualifiers

13. Connor Schmenk (K).

Girls Meet

District 1

Liberty Center 32, Liberty-Benton 60, Bluffton 101, Pandora-Gilboa 116, Kalida 117, Delta 166, New Bremen 174, Parkway 175

Top 10 Individuals

Brittany Atkinson (LC), 18:30.8; Jessica Doepker (K); Hannah Chappell-Dick (B); Kelly Haubert (LC); Chelsea Knapp (LC); Paige Chamberlain (LC); Kirsten Fruchey (D); Aurdra Schroeder (L-B); Kate Baumlein (L-B); Mackenzie Briggs (L-B).

Other Area Qualifiers

16. Jackie Gardner (K).

District 2

Coldwater 19, Spencerville 67, Fort Recovery 80, Fairview 127, Fayette 134, Ayersville 174, Wayne Trace 179, Pettisville 207, Edgerton 235, Holgate 247, Waynesfield-Goshen 312

Top 10 Individuals

Sarah Kanney (C), 18:29.9; Jill Kanney (C); Christina Seas (C); Hannah McKibben (A); Elle Sutter (FR); Ashley Schoenherr (C); Lauren Seas (C); Tori Hardesty (S); Kacie Mulholland (S); Jill Stuckey (Fayette).

Other Area Qualifiers

4. Hannah McKibben (A); 13. Tanner Hostetler (P); 16. Lindsey Matthews (WT).

District 3

Minster 32, Lima Central Catholic 130, Antwerp 138, St. Henry 144, Tinora 145, Columbus Grove 154, New Knoxville 178, Crestview 189, Lincolnview 216, Marion Local 225, Stryker 242, Edon 243

Top 10 Individuals

Cassie Boyle (NK), 19:35.4; Sydney Mohler (LCC); Amber Herron (CG); Natalie Fausey (M); Hannah Butler (M); Gabrielle Barga (M); Amanda Sherman (M); Sabrina Brown (E); Clara Shroyer (NK); Olivia Enneking (M).

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