PICKERINGTON — The Miami Trace boys cross country team competed for the first time in school history at the Division II Regional meet Saturday at Pickerington North High School.
The Panthers finished 17th out of 22 teams in a total field of 181 competitors.
Junior Simon DeBruin placed 79th overall in a time of 17:59.5.
Junior Henry DeBruin was 80th overall with a time of 18:02.7.
Sophomore Bo Little was 92nd overall in 18:10.6.
Sophomore Caleb Brannigan was 105 overall with a time of 18:22.7.
Sophomore Mcale Callahan placed 145th overall in 18:56.0.
Freshman Connor Bucher was 172nd in 20:37.0 and freshman Jadon Rowe, subbing for senior Joathem Lewis who was under the weather, placed 176th in 20:54.7.
William Wilke, a sophomore from Sheridan, followed his District championship at Rio Grande by winning the Regional in a time of 16:14.7.
Senior Tucker Marko of Unioto, who placed second at Rio Grande, was third at Pickerington in 16:25.5.
Senior Jaden Watkins of Unioto was 13th in 16.49.5.
The top seven teams and those individuals finishing in the top 28 not on one of the top seven teams advance to this Saturday’s State championship at the National Trail Raceway.
Heath won the Pickerington Regional in Division II with 64 placement points.
Unioto was second with 89 points and Sheridan placed third with 101 points.
Jonathan Alder was fourth with 148 points, Bexley was fifth with 172 points, Rock Hill was sixth with 198 points and Minerva was the final team to make it out to State, placing seventh with 215 points.
Waverly’s team was 12th with 362 points and Westfall was 22nd with 477 points.
From Circleville, Colton Pinkerton was 34th in 17:22.7.
Logan Elm’s Cole Hampton was 82nd in 18:04.2 and Westfall’s Zach Shipley was 73rd in 17:56.9.
“If we had run our best race, we could have finished 10th or 11th,” Miami Trace head coach Jeff Smallwood said. “It was a valuable experience for this group. They’re all back next year. They got to see what the Regional is all about.
“Out of 181 runners, 145 broke (under) 19 minutes,” Smallwood said. “There are no slow runners at the Regional.
“Simon and Henry both ran 17:59 and 18:02,” Smallwood said. “Which is solid.
“Five of the top six teams I knew would be right there,” Smallwood said. “Sheridan, Unioto, Rock Hill, Heath and Jonathan Alder, those were five of the first six teams. Bexley got in there and Minerva took the last State spot. All of those teams have multiple seniors.
“We did well,” Smallwood said. “One thing though, three of the teams we beat at Districts ended up beating us at Regional. That’s why we fell from that 12 or 13 range to 17th.
“We were really close to splitting the field,” Smallwood said. “Which is kind of what we wanted to do. But, these kids getting this experience, it was just great for them. It really opened their eyes to what they need to do to get to the next level.
“In order to qualify to State as an individual, you were going to have to run about a 17:20,” Smallwood said. “And this course was fairly difficult.
“With Bo coming in 92nd, we had three kids split the field,” Smallwood said. “That isn’t bad at all at Regionals, to beat half the field.
“Caleb wasn’t far behind Bo,” Smallwood said. “Mcale was the last one in the field to break 19 minutes.
“Connor pushed through,” Smallwood said. “He wasn’t feeling the greatest. He didn’t have his best race of the year, but, he’s a tough kid.
“We ran another freshman,” Smallwood said. “Joathem was sick, so we brought in Jadon Rowe. We gave our other senior, James Munro, the option, but he had to work Saturday. Jadon went up and ran well as a freshman.”
Miami Trace has a core group of boys back for next season.
“The team we ran with at Regionals, every single one of them are back next year,” Smallwood said. “Next year is our year. If we want to hit the next level, they know what they need to do over the summer, which is, put those miles in.
“We’re going to meet once or twice every couple of weeks over the summer, just to get everybody down to Christman Park, just to have some continuity,” Smallwood said. “Next year will be a good chance for us to try and move up and try to get in the top seven and get the team to State. That would be excellent.
“The course was pretty flat,” Bo Little said. “I thought it was a good course to run. Now that we’ve seen it once, I think next year we could come back and advance to State. It was rainy and that kind of decreased my chances of a p.r. (personal best time).”
“I don’t think that was our best race,” Caleb Brannigan said. “That was our first time at Regionals and the competition was a lot more intense. But, we’ve been there now and we know what to expect.
“The team, we pushed together as a team,” Brannigan said. “For me, personally, I didn’t have a good race. It was really cold and my body couldn’t warm up. But, I think next year we’ll be a lot more prepared and put the work in. We’re going to do good things next year.
“We exceeded our goals and expectations from this year,” Brannigan said. “When we get together and put our mind to it, we’re going to put the work in and it’ll be a lot better next year.”
“It was a pretty good experience,” Jadon Rowe said. “We all probably could have ran better and placed better. Like Caleb said, it was our first time at Regionals and we really didn’t know what to expect.
“The competition was pretty fast,” Rowe said. “Next year we’re all going to be faster and stronger. We have a bright future ahead of us for cross country.”
“I think all of us were pretty excited to compete (at Regionals),” Mcale Callahan said. “I think all of us were also kind of nervous. Only one of us broke 18 (minutes). Just getting the experience up there was great. We’ll definitely be ready for next year.”
“We ran okay,” Henry DeBruin said. “We came out a little slow. It was a lot different than a lot of the other races we’ve ran this year. It was an experience and I think next year we’ll be able to do better because we’re more accustomed to it now.
“We just have to run a little bit faster,” Henry said. “I think we’ll have a chance to do that next year. We all should get faster over the summer and through the next school year. We’ll have a mostly upperclassmen team instead of all being younger and that will help.
“I think our team would have performed better had it been clearer weather,” Simon DeBruin said. “But, I think we all did well with the conditions that we faced. I think everybody ran their best. I don’t think we could have expected to do much better.
“Now that we have this base and we’ve all seen how the race goes, that we’ll be able to start the race better next year and hopefully move on,” Simon said. “At the Regional, everybody is right there. It’s a lot more crowded and it’s harder to pass people and I wasn’t prepared for that. But, for next year, I know how that works now.”
“The competition at the Regional was insane,” Connor Bucher said. “It was hard for me as a freshman running against all the seniors. Our team didn’t do so good. We finished 17th. We thought we might finish as high as 11th, so that was a little disappointing.
“Our team is going to train extra hard so we can hopefully make it to State next year,” Bucher said.
“They are just a great group of kids,” Smallwood said. “They had an excellent season. It’s the first time in school history taking a team to Regionals and these guys are all underclassmen, which is nice.”
Miami Trace had five senior cross country team members this year: Joathem Lewis, James Munro, Cassidy Lovett, Kylee Munro and Makenzie Munro.
“The seniors did a great job this year,” Smallwood said. “James is a great leader. The kids look up to him.
“Thanks to everyone for their support,” Smallwood said. “We had well wishes all over social media. People were really interested in this group. We had a lot of support from our community and from the school.”