MOUNT GILEAD — The Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships proved to be very cold and grueling for the participants, but also very rewarding for the winners.

Cody Strawser/News Centerburg’s Avery Tucker reacts after finishing third in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference cross country championships, held Saturday at Mount Gilead.

For the boy’s cross country team, Mount Gilead ended up with the victory on their home course with a score of 27 and an average run time of 16:27.98. The other placements for the boys were as follows: Fredericktown (51), Highland (110), Northmor (113), Cardington (128), Centerburg (140), and East Knox (141).

Cody Strawser/News Mount Gilead’s Liam Dennis leads Fredericktown’s Thomas Caputo down the stretch in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference cross country championships Saturday at Mount Gilead.

The winning team for the girl’s cross country race was Centerburg with a score of 60. The other girl’s racing placements are as follows: Fredericktown (64), Mount Gilead (66), Northmor (79), Highland (99), and Cardington (132).

The individual winner for the boy’s KMAC cross country championship was Liam Dennis (15:53.05) who represented the home team: Mount Gilead. He was excited to win another conference championship and was appreciative of the effort of his supportive teammates. He also discussed the rigors of the sport of cross country and what his future plans are.

“It’s really nice to win,” Dennis said. “I won sophomore year at conference and district and then to come back senior year and win on our home course, it’s really nice to finish off the season with a win here at home.

“This is definitely a physical sport. You have to mentally prepare. You know it’s going to hurt, so you just have to know when to take over and use that mental toughness to push you through. My team worked really hard, I want to thank them. They push me and we all push each other in practice. It’s really nice to have such a great team for senior year. I definitely plan on running at the collegiate level. I’m not one-hundred percent sure where yet. Right now I’m focusing on my high school career and finishing off strong, and we’ll see what happens.”

Thomas Caputo was right on Dennis’ heels, finishing second just one second behind (15:54.09). Mason White from Cardington finished third in 16:02.91. Mount Gilead had four of the next seven runners, Ethan Suplee (fourth, 16:06.92), Brett Shipman (fifth, 16:24.88), Michael Snopik (seventh, 16:47.48) and Eric Mowery (10th, 17:07.58).

Fredericktown got three more runners in the top 11 overall. Evan France finished sixth (16:35.34), while Titus Krabill was ninth (17:00.37) and Ethan Dudgeon 11th (17:07.65).

Gavvin Keen of Northmor was eighth in 16:55.02, while Nathan Streby finished 12th in 17:15.69 and Hunter Bolton was 13th in 17:24.31. Blake Johnson led Centerburg runners by placing 16th in 17:30.76.

The individual race winner for the girls KMAC cross country championship was Louie Hallabrin, a freshman representing Cardington. She was happy with her performance and also very thrilled to have the race over with and not have to run in the cold weather anymore.

“It feels startling to be the top girl,” said Louie Hallabrin. “We had a long warm up, but I still didn’t feel warmed up enough because of the cold. I’m so excited to be done.”

Centerburg had four girls finish in the top 20 en route to the team victory.

Avery Tucker was the first Trojan to finish, placing third in 19:09.54. Aeryn Walters came in sixth in 20:01.95, while Makenna Hennell was 11th in 20:35.20 and Abigail Dickhof was 18th in 21:17.08.

Fredericktown’s pack helped it to finish second as a team. Elsa Hoam was seventh in 20:07.75 and Natalie Vanmeter came in ninth at 20:21.54. The Freddies took 15th through 17th place with Georgie Caputo (21:09.13), Sadie Sanders (21:11.46) and Emma Linhares (21:15.07).

Camberly Schade finished second overall in 18:59.44 for Highland. Mount Gilead’s Baylee Hack (19:14.85) and Emily Hanft (19:54.66) were fourth and fifth overall, while Northmor’s Julianna Ditullio was eighth in 20:18.25.

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Cody Strawser: 740-397-5333 or cody@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews