CENTERBURG — The Centerburg boy’s and girl’s cross country teams both qualified for the next stage of cross country racing after performing very well at districts over the weekend. They will be advancing to regionals, which will take place this Saturday at Pickerington North High School at 11 a.m. The girls and boys teams will both represent their schools and their communities at the regional competitions.

Mike Eblin, the head cross country coach for Centerburg, spoke about preparation for the regional meet, the implications for both of the girls and boys teams making it to regionals and how both teams hope to continue their success in post-season cross country racing.

“It means a lot for our program to have both the boy’s and girl’s teams advance to regionals,” said Coach Eblin. “There is a lot of preparation that goes into making it to regionals. The preparation for this starts in the off-season with summer mileage. Everything from regular season meets, to every practice, it is designed to help us perform our very best both physically and mentally in the post-season.

“For the girls, this is the third straight year qualifying for regionals, so it is about keeping that post-season advancement a continuous goal. This is the first year for the boys team to qualify for the regional meet since 2009, so it is a step forward in making this a continuous achievement.”

The girls will be making their third straight appearance at regionals despite having just two seniors on the squad — Aeryn Walters (8th at district) and Emma Dickhof (35th at district).

A contingent of sophomores helped spur the team this year. Avery Tucker was the top Centerburg runner, finishing fifth at districts. Makenna Hennell came in 16th and Abigail Dickhof was 20th. The Trojans also had junior Rebecca Scholl finish 50th and freshman Elizabeth Ursich come in 57th.

Eblin also spoke about the specific placements that the girl’s and boy’s cross country teams made, as well as how close the boy’s race was in terms of them placing by a very slim margin, and the aggressive second-half racing strategy that was successful for both teams in making it to the regional championship.

“Qualifying for post-season races are all about getting out to a strong and smart start,” said Coach Eblin. “Getting into the right position to make a move the second half of the race is also important. The Lady Trojans were able to qualify with a strong performance and a close pack crossing the line, finishing second place overall to a fellow conference school Mount Gilead. The boys also got out to a good start and ran an aggressive second half of the race to place third overall in their section, which was the final spot for qualifying to the regional championship meet. This was a very close race which was decided in the second half, with the boy’s team taking third place by just four points.”

The boys didn’t have a top 10 finisher, but had three in the top 20 to qualify for regionals. Blake Johnson was the top runner, finishing 12th at districts, while Will Carlisle was 16th and Alex Hayden 19th.

The Trojans also got solid contributions from Travis Thomas (24th), Dylan Melick (33rd), Gavin Wright (36th) and Timothy Wheeler (42nd).

The boy’s and girl’s cross country teams for Centerburg High School are excited to be competing in the cross-country post-season.

“It’s exciting to have both teams moving on to the regional meet. As a coach it is great to see all of these athletes hard work begin to pay off on the course. I’m thrilled as a coach to see both teams qualify out there together to regionals as it helps establish and continue to strengthen our program’s culture.”

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




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