A total of 118 female high school cross country runners from all over Ohio, including some of the finest runners throughout northeast and central Ohio, lined up at the start line of the 2016 Midwest Meet of Champions Saturday, Oct. 1 in Hilliard Bradley High School.
While a number of the top-flight runners had their eye on the top prize, only one left the Girls 5K Race of Champions with gold around her neck.
That gold medal came back to Millersburg, as part of the growing collection of West Holmes senior Michelle Hostettler.
Hostettler fought off challenges from three key challengers and went on to post a time of 18:26.50, good enough to edge runner-up Allison Guagenti of Olentangy Orange, who flew home in 18:30.07. Following her were Kyleigh Edwards of Fairfield Christian (18:32.65) and Annie Zimmer of Chagrin Falls (18:46.03).
Hostettler’s victory continues her impressive career, as she vies to get back to the state meet and improve on a sparkling third-place finish in last year’s event.
She and the rest of the field had to deal with some less than ideal conditions as heavy earlier rains left the track wet and muddy, making for some precarious footing.
She proved to be more than up to that challenge.
Hostetler said that the idea coming in was to push the pace, and make people chase her, which she did to perfection.
Hostettler trailed Guagenti after close to two miles, but turned it on and took the lead, as she paced the three other key challengers over the final mile. With several hundred yards to go, Hostetler said she kicked things into another gear altogether to put some distance between herself and the rest of the field as they neared the wire.
Despite running at or near the front of the pack much of the year, this victory marked the first title for the West Holmes senior this season, an achievement she was thrilled to be able to get as the much more important district, regional and state meets draw near.
In the Boys’ 5K Run Cross Country Open, the Knights boys’ team placed 16th in the 20-team field, accumulating 421 points. The team was without its top runner, Vinny DeFelice, who opted to run in the boys’ 5K Race of Champions. There, DeFelice placed 70th in a time of 17:16.72. That time would have placed DeFelice third overall in the open race.
In the open race, the Knights were led by freshman Ethan Raber, who placed 65th in the field of 304 runners ion a time of 19:23.50. Close behind him was sophomore teammate Jonathon Kandel, who came across in 19:31.47, good enough to earn him 74th place.
Jackson Iamarino continued to gain valuable experience, as the first-year runner ended up 105th in a time of 20:06. Junior Brayden Bender was 117th in a time of 20:18, with Jonathan Schonauer (20:23) coming in 121st. Zedrick Clark (20:40) was 142nd, while Jeremy Schonauer (21:08) placed 158th.
The Lady Knights placed 15th out of 16 schools, accumulating 364 points.
In a field of 200, sophomore Erin Norman led the way for the Lady Knights, placing 34th in a time of 22:58.92. Kaylor Perone (24:44) was next in line for West Holmes in 86th place, while teammate Megan Morrison (25:10) as 106th. Alexis Hunter (25:22) was right behind her in 113th place.
Daybria Yerian (26:05) was 130th, with Rebecca Kashuba (26:48) coming 144th.
In the Middle School Girls 3200 Meter Race, West Holmes placed ninth out of 13 teams, but got a pair of excellent efforts from Katie Sprang and Kaili Maltarich. Sprang placed fifth overall in a time of 12:40.96, less than 10 seconds out of third place, while Maltarich ran a 13:09, good enough to take 12th place. Tegan Harris (14:02) was 38th in the field of 207 runners, while Brogan Steimel (14:53) placed 64th. Carolyn Rohr (16:38) was 113th to round out the scoring for West Holmes.
For the Knights Middle School boys in the 3200, they placed 11th in the field of 14 teams.
Leading the way was Caiden Carter, who flew to 31st place, while teammate Ceden Zigler was 67th. Carl Uhink placed 80th, Haeden Wolfe was 127th and Erik Marmet was 177th.