Despite falling short, Garaway’s day at state cross country continues its growing legacy

Even though things didn’t turn out the way it had hoped, the very fact that the Garaway boys were making their fifth straight state cross country appearance and the Lady Pirates were making their fourth in a row speaks volumes as to where the Garaway cross country program stands.

The Garaway girls cross country team was coming off of a runner-up finish in 2014 that saw the Lady Pirates step on to the precipice of a Div. III cross country state title, before settling for the silver after a tie-breaker with McDonald.

Garaway’s impressive squad of returning runners had used that finish as a catalyst to propel themselves through this season with one thing in mind: Getting another shot at perhaps bumping the Pirates’ school name up one notch.

While the team got back to state, things did not turn out as they had hoped, as the Lady Pirates finished fifth in 2015, but it did not deter from the fact that with this being the team’s fourth straight trip to state, Garaway’s name is one that is well known around the state of Ohio when it comes to distance running.

“Based on the times everyone was running, I really felt that we would be in that fourth or fifth place range,” said Garaway coach Chuck Zobel. “We kind of try to find places where we can improve and come up with a goal score for our teams. We were close the what I expected, but we didn’t quite reach the numbers we wanted.”

Rachel Wentworth wrapped up what has to be one of the finest cross country careers in the area. Wentworth secured her fourth straight All-Ohio honor by running to sixth place. While that wasn’t her ultimate goal, standing on the podium to accept yet another All-Ohio honor was a fitting way for her to go out.

“We didn’t run as well as we had hoped,” said Wentworth.

“I had higher goals today, but it still feels good to compete against some of the top runners in the state. It was an honor,” said Wentworth.

Wentworth said after placing 10th in her freshman season, she realized that she may be able to accomplish great things as a runner, and that came to fruition over her four year career.

Yet the team-first senior said she would gladly trade all of those for a team state championship.

“What a heck of a career,” said Zobel of Wentworth. ‘She has been a great leader for us and that speaks volumes about her character. She led by example as an incredibly hard worker and she was a vocal leader, always encouraging those around her, and that is more important than any of the accolades she has won.”
Wentworth leaves the Garaway cross country program as a highly decorated individual runner, but was also honored to run on four consecutive state-qualifying girls’ teams.

Also placing in the upper half of the 144-runner field were Jocelyn Miller, who placed 44th overall in 19:55.7, and Ariel Wentworth, who finished 54th in 20:09.5 Lauren Violet ran a 20:25.2 to grab 68th, Lindsey Goehring placed 103rd in 21:22.2, Summer Miller was 123rd in 22:28.6 and freshman Morgan Metzger ran 138th in 24:11.0.

St. Thomas Aquinas won the Div. III girls race with 69 points, defeating state powerhouse Minster (87 points), whose girls were devastated with their second-place effort. Last year’s champion McDonald (127), which defeated Garaway in the tie-breaker for the title in 2014, finished third, while Liberty Center was fourth with 176 points. Garaway was fifth with 181, while Russia placed sixth with 186.

For a team loaded with returning talent that placed runner-up the prior year, The Lady Pirates had used that finish last year as a rallying cry for this season.

Yet they were unable to duplicate that finish, but it was not for lack of effort. It just goes to prove that what the team did last season was an incredible feat.

“You can never take anything like last year for granted, because that was something special,” said Zobel. “I know the girls wanted to come back here again and challenge for that same kind of finish, but that is so difficult to do with state powers like Minster, Aquinas and McDonald down here every year.”

Zobel said the finish was not for a lack of preparation or talent, it simply was one of those days that teams experience at times.

“Sometimes you come down here and run great, and at other times it is not the case,” said Zobel.

“But we were fifth in the state, and I can’t complain about that. That is a great accomplishment, and these girls have put a lot into this season.”

For the boys team, it was a rough day.

Junior B.J. Schwartz crossed the finish line, walked down toward the tent, turned, ripped a wristband from his arm and fired it to the ground. His time of 16:37.1 was good for 34th place, not the finish for which he had hoped.

However, his pain paled in comparison to senior teammate Nathan Millet. With the top 25 runners qualifying for All-Ohio honors, Millet, running his final race for the pirates, pushed hard at the end, knowing he had to pass some runners to reach that goal.

He did manage to move past two, but in the end, he would place 28th in 16:31.9, just 1.4 seconds off the pace that would have bumped him up into the top 25.

Millet said following the race that he couldn’t imagine ending his career in a better place than at the state meet in Hebron.

“This feels really good to finish my high school career here at state,” said Millet. “It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication to the sport. To run my last race here was fun. I just wanted to come down here and see what I could do in the last race of my career.”

Millet said he heard Zobel yelling ta him that every spot counted as he flew across the final last hundred meters of his career, and he said he fought as hard as he could to pass anyone he could to try to secure a spot as an All-Ohioan. It didn’t quite happen, but the near-miss doesn’t take away from the stellar career Millet put forth.

While the top two Pirates fared fairly well, they had a long wait to greet their next runner. Junior Austin Miller was the third Pirate to reach the finish line, coming home in 17:53.8, placing him 109th.

Andrew West was next for the pirates, pulling in at 18:10.8, good for 119th, while freshman Julian Shrock provided Garaway with its fifth and final counting score, finishing 128th in 18:20.1. Teammate Nathan Wicker finished next in the field, just 0.4 seconds behind Shrock. Braden Shupe placed 149th for the Pirates, finishing in 19:26.7.

Maplewood edged St, Thomas Aquinas, 61-87, a state title that included an individual state championship for senior Tristan Dahmen, who ran a 15:18.8, 18 seconds ahead of runner-up, Antwerp’s Sam Williamson.

The Garaway boys ended up in 11th place, but despite not finding the results they wanted, it did mark the fifth straight appearance for the Pirates at the state meet, as Zobel’s troops continue to prove they can run with the elite programs in the state.

“At the end of the day, when your kids have given their best effort and done whatever they could, that is all a coach can ask, and that is exactly what we did today,” said Zobel. “Win or lose, we want to set a good example to the people around us no matter what we do, and I felt our kids really represented their school and themselves well.”

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