HILLIARD — The Fredericktown boys cross country team dominated the competition in their Division III Central District race Saturday at Hilliard Darby High School, winning the team title by more than 40 points and punching its ticket to the regional race.
“I felt like our boys were pretty dominant,” Fredericktown coach Bob Geiger said. “I felt like there was going to be a pack of five to six guys up front who could be all-Ohioans, and we fit right into that.”
Paden Spencer paced the Freddies again Saturday. He was in the front pack throughout the race, crossing the mile mark in fourth. By the second split, he moved up to third in the pack.
“You really have to know that they’re running just as smart as you want to be running,” Spencer said of running in the front group. “You kind of put your trust in them and work around that to suit yourself in the race.”
Rounding the final turn heading in to the finish line, Spencer was shoulder to shoulder with Worthington Christian’s Taylor Vallangeon. Spencer turned on the speed and crossed the line first, posting a time of 16:23.7 to win the race, with Vallangeon finishing in 16:27.1.
“I’m never going to come around the corner like that with a title on my hands and let it get away from me,” Spencer said. “You don’t ever want to say that you could have. That just demoralizes you for the rest of your life if you think about it hard enough. I think running away from that, literally, is what drives me to go out there and get what I can get.”
Fellow Freddie senior Thomas Caputo turned in a time of 16:30.1 to take third, while Connor Riley, a sophomore, snagged the fifth slot (16:53.7).
Outside of the top three for the Freddies, Jack Stalnaker was not far behind, snagging eighth (17:26.8). Titus Krabill (17:38.4), Evan France (17:41.8) and Ethan Dudgeon (18:01.5) were all still in the top 20, finishing 16th, 17th and 19th, respectively.
“That’s what beats people is that second pack,” Geiger said of his team winning. “Jack Stalnaker is the senior in that group and he is the rock. They pace off him and run off him. To have a senior in that group is great.”
Fredericktown picked up the team win with 33 points and earned its way in to the regional meet. Columbus Academy was next on the leaderboards with 75 points and Granville Christian Academy notched 129 points to finish third. Elgin (135) was the fourth and final team to qualify for regionals.
East Knox’s Nathan Whitney also earned his way to regionals as an individual, earning 13th with a time of 17:36.1 to lead the seventh-place Bulldogs (182). Hunter Keller (18:41.5) and Samuel Whitney (18:43.8) finished back-to-back, taking 29th and 30th, respectively. Isiah Kohl (21:05.3) snagged 61st, while Steven Davis (21:39.6) took 64th, Brad Van Houten (21:57.2) 66th and Scott Bates (23:22.7) finished 70th.
Centerburg was one slot behind East Knox in the team standings, finishing eighth with 190 points. Blake Johnson turned in a time of 18:09.4, while Will Carlisle clocked an 18:13.9, earning 21st and 22nd, respectively, to lead the Trojans. Travis Thomas (19:06.2) earned 37th, Dylan Melick (20:31.5) took 55th and Jacob Leber (22:39.0) 68th. Brady Bland (26:03.5) and Rueben McLaughlin (27:43.1) rounded out the Trojans, earning 78th and 79th.
Mount Gilead took the top spot as a team in their race with 28 points, led by Liam Dennis (third, 16:39.7) and Ethan Supplee (fourth, 16:41.0). Four other Indians were in the top 10.
Northmor was led by Gavin Keen (10th, 17:16.5) and Ryan Bentley (11th, 17:29.0). The Golden Knights finished second as a team with 69 points in the Division III Section I race. Mason White was the top Cardington runner, turning in a time of 16:36.3 to finish second, qualifying for regionals as an individual.
The Highland Scots, who finished fifth as a team in their race with 134 points, had two runners reach regionals by sneaking in to the top 16 to qualify as individuals. Dalton Lee finished 14th with a time of 17:39.7, while Collin Kipp clocked a time of 17:50.0 to take 16th.
Bruce Jordan was the next Scot to cross the finish line, securing 27th with a time of 18:11.0. Zach Wetzel (18:47.3) and Tucker Tague (18:47.6) finished back-to-back in slots 38 and 39. Alex McCafferty earned 42nd (19:12.1), while Jordan Bellamy slid to 46th (19:25.3).
Utica competed in the other Division II race, where the top three teams and first 12 individuals qualified for regionals. Redskin freshman Jay Figgins just missed the top 12, finishing 14th with a time of 17:30.5. A trio of Utica boys finished in a row, with Jordan Pierce (18:56.7), Silas Buckenberger (18:59.1) and Demitri Lowry (19:05.7) taking 41st through 43rd places. Brett Homman was not far behind his teammates, taking 45th with a time of 19:16.2. Matt Talty (20:29.7) and Sean McCutcheon (21:09.4) rounded out the Redskins, securing 60th and 64th, respectively.
Mount Vernon competed in the Division I Section III race, led by Noah Stephen’s 50th-place finish with a time of 17:53.5. Duncan Hardy was the next Jacket to finish, taking 78th with a time of 18:29.1. Jordan Treber (18:46.0) finished 92nd. Eric Wagner (19:37.7) and Logan Moore (19:48.6) were close to each other, finishing 126th and 130th. Malcolm MacDonell (138th, 20:21.5) and Nick Johnson (142nd, 20:47.8) rounded out the Jacket runners.
Regionals will take place at Pickerington North High School next Saturday.