HEBRON — Medina’s Alex Stamper was preparing for the worst Saturday at the State Cross Country Championships.
The mindset helped, as Stamper and his teammates were unfazed by the muddy course at National Trail Raceway and the Bees placed third in Division I.
It was the highest finish since capturing the 2007 title.
“We always expect the worst, so it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking it would be,” said Stamper, who was 30th. “It was great, actually.”
Medina compiled 159 points to finish behind Hudson (73) and Hilliard Davidson (143), paced by strong pack running from Stamper, Zach Robertson and Jake Wickert.
The race was far from easy, however, as the trio had to make up significant ground over the last mile and a half.
“It was packed down, and running between the packs was probably the hardest thing,” Stamper said. “I had enough to hang on, though, and probably only let one guy go.”
With a little more than a mile remaining, Stamper improved his position by 14 spots to finish in 16:09, followed by Robertson and Wickert in 34th and 35th. Robertson steadily improved his placement by nine spots, while Wickert came all the way from 54th at the two-mile marker.
“At the beginning it was hard because it was really tight,” Robertson said. “It was hard to move up. As soon as you got into the fields, packs starting to form and it got better after a mile.”
The key to Medina’s finish might’ve been Harry Custer. The sophomore broke 17 minutes for the first time since September to place 67th in 16:39.5.
“We had the pack three, and Harry probably ran the best he’s ran in a while,” Bees coach Milt Place said. “We’re happy overall. We were thinking third to seventh (place) and we were at the highest end of probably what was realistic.”
The experience was what Robertson and the rest of the veterans will remember most.
“It’s special because not a lot of teams get a chance to get down here,” Robertson said. “We’re all really close by this time in the season. It’s a great experience for everyone, especially the younger guys, and just nice to be down there.”
Wadsworth senior Nick Miller capped his career with a 45th-place finish. The Ohio State commit got off to an impressive start, when he was as high as 17th, before dropping over the final mile to clock a 16:20.6.
Black River’s Russell Schultz earned his second consecutive All-Ohio finish, as the senior was 13th in the D-II race earlier in the day.
After sustaining an injury to his Achilles tendon earlier in the week during a sprint workout, Schultz found a way to battle through the pain to finish in 16:12.4.
“The adrenaline really took me through it,” he said. “I didn’t think about it the whole time. It was what it was, and I just pushed through it and did my best.
“I ran as hard as I could, and I felt like this was probably the best race that I’ve ever ran. I just felt dead the whole time. I did the best I could and the outcome is what it is.”
Schultz was third through the first mile in 4:51.6 and still clung to a top-10 spot at the two-mile mark before the effects of his injury set in.
“I was just trying to do the best I could and hold on and it was going to take me we it took me,” he said. “I wasn’t going to worry about it.
“I picked up a few sports, lost a few spots, and I held it a lot of the way through. It was just really sloppy. We came here yesterday and it was muddy, but it got a lot more beat up as we were the second to last race.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.
HEBRON — Results Saturday from the State Cross Country Championships held at National Trail Raceway.
Team standings: 1. Hudson 73, 2. Hilliard Davidson 143, 3. Medina 159, 4. Mason 177, 5. St. Xavier 209, 6. Massillon Jackson 218, 7. Whitmer 228, 8. Centerville 242, 9. Pickerington North 244, 10. St. Ignatius 255, 11. Thomas Worthington 258, 12. Perrysburg 265, 13. Olentangy 269, 14. Kenston 286, 15. Defiance 290, 16. Lebanon 364, 17. Lancaster 396, 18. St. Edward 400, 19. Mentor 410, 20. Kings 453.
Individual standings: 1. Dustin Horter (Lakota East) 15:03.5, 2. Conant Smith (Middletown) 15:03.9, 3. Matt Scrape (Pick. Central) 15:20.9, 4. Zach Applegate (Bowling Green) 15:24.6, 5. Arjun Jha (TW) 15:32.7, 6. Lucas Bons (Dublin Coffman) 15:34, 7. Josh Hill (Amherst) 15:34.7, 8. Andy Payne (TW) 15:36.2, 9. Nathan Cousino (Whit) 15:41.5, 10. Nate Kawalec (Chardon) 15:41.5.
Medina (159): 30. Alex Stamper 16:09, 34. Zach Robertson 16:12, 35. Jake Wickert 16:12.6, 67. Harry Custer 16:39.5, 103. Caleb Cummings 16:57, 131. Alex Loeper 17:13.9, 152. Jeff Hurst 17:24.3.
County individual: 45. Nick Miller (Wadsworth) 16:20.6.
Team standings: 1. Lexington 97, 2. Sheridan 101, 3. St. Vincent-St. Mary 144, 4. Woodridge 158, 5. Rocky River 160, 6. Shelby 164, 7. Bay 183, 8. Heath 201, 9. Buckeye Valley 249, 10. Unioto 284, 11. NDCL 290, 12. Jonathan Alder 322, 13. Van Wert 329, 14. Lake Catholic 354, 15. Madeira 362, 16. Brookville 390, 17. Eaton 396, 18. Watterson 414, 19. River View 424, 20. Springfield Shawnee 429.
Individual standings: 1. Zach Kreft (BV) 15:20.6, 2. Ryan Johnston (Lex) 15:41.9, 3. Caleb Brown (Shelby) 15:56.9, 4. Kyle Johnston (Lex) 15:59.3, 5. Joe Spitzer (Versailles) 16:01.9, 6. Micah Blair (Wo) 16:03.8, 7. Luke Brown (Sher) 16:05.2, 8. Eddie Zuercher (RR) 16:05.3, 9. Ryan Estes (Clark Montessori) 16:07.6, 10. Chris Chandler (Eastmoor Acad.) 16:10.1.
County individual: 13. Russell Schultz (Black River) 16:12.2.