Cross Country

Smithies turn in an All-Ohio effort in claiming sixth at state XC

Smithville's Joey Courdriet (front) and Lucas Clark both earned All-Ohio honors during the recent Div. III state cross country meet

A race on the state’s biggest and brightest stage was not enough to intimidate the Smithville boys cross country team.
Considering it was the first team trip ever to the state cross country meet for the Smithville Smithies during the Div. III state meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron Saturday, Nov. 5, it is safe to say that the Smithies held up under the pressure.
A pair of Smithies ran their way right into All-Ohio status. Senior Joey Courdriet churned out a 16:21 to place 18th, while junior teammate Lucas Clark ran a 16:26, good for 24th place, just inside the top 25 that earn All-Ohio.
As a team, Smithville didn’t quite connect with the fifth place spot for which it was hoping, but narrowly missed, placing sixth in the 16-team field.
“We are extremely excited just to finally be here, but we did have some loftier goals set for ourselves,” said Smithville head coach Greg DeRodes. “We wanted fifth, but that is how it goes. The guys ran great against some incredible competition, and we ran hard. If we do that, we will be happy with whatever the results are.”
The pressure of competing at state can be overwhelming, but for the most part, the Smithies looked totally in control of what they wanted to do.
It all started at the top with Courdriet, who had to battle his way through an ankle injury he suffered before regionals. The ill effects of that injury did not stop him from competing and achieving greatness.
“Today, I was hoping to get out there and see where I stood with some great runners,” Courdriet said. “I knew I was in good shape after the first mile, because I knew I could push myself to go even harder, and I was within the top 25.
Courdriet was at state last year and didn’t fair very well, but this time around not even an injury could prevent him from a monumental achievement he has been chasing from day one this season.
Courdriet actually injured his hamstring the Tuesday before regionals, and that night went on a walk to try to loosen it up. He took a misstep, his foot coming down half on sidewalk, half on the grassy area below it, twisting the ankle.
“That was rough, but I was happy to put it behind me quickly,” Courdriet said.
With the rolled ankle, DeRodes said it was anything but surprising to see his senior leader giving every ounce he had for himself and for the team.
DeRodes aid Courdriet gutted out a 20th place finish at regionals that helped the Smithies secure the final qualifying spot. When state came, he was ready.
That is the kind of competitor and leader Courdriet is.
“He has been a joy to coach,” DeRodes said. “He is one of the biggest reasons our program is on the upswing. “We don’t mess around at practice, we are focused and we race hard and we got a lot of that from following Joey’s lead. He is a great leader.”
Courdriet gave kudos to former Smithies great Tommy Weiner, whom he said provided a true example of great leadership for both himself and the team when Courdriet was a freshman.
“Just being around Tommy helped me immensely,” Courdriet said. “I learned so much from him, and it helped me to lead this group. But that was really easy because this is such a great group.”
Clark, an All-Ohioan in the 800 in track last year, came through in a big way down the stretch, securing his spot as an All-Ohioan now in cross country.
“I saw where Joey was, and I came in and told him I wasn’t too far behind him,” Clark said. “The fact that we both got to be All-Ohioans is amazing. I knew where I was pretty much the whole time, and I was right on the cutting edge of making it. Thankfully I had enough left to finish strong. This has been such a fun season for all of us.”
Clark used his closing track speed to pass a number of runners late, which is how he made the All-Ohio status a reality.
“As an All-Ohio 800 runner, you don’t want to race Lucas down the stretch when it matters,” DeRodes said. “He’s got some wheels, and he used that to sneak in after getting four kids late.”
The rest of the Smithies team performed admirably. Justin McKeal placed 41st in 16:41, Noah Riggenbach was 99th in 17:27, Noah Navratil was 126th in 17:41, Braden Young earned 162nd in 18:20 and Max Hanreck ended up 179th in 18:58.
With Courdriet the lone runner leaving the team, DeRodes said the future is incredibly bright for this talented group of runners, both the boys and the girls, who also made it to regionals this year.
“Our goal is to be right back here next year,” DeRodes said. “We’ve got a couple of sophomores who are only going to get a lot better, and with Lucas back and a veteran team returning, we all have the mind-set that we are going to get back here and do this again.”

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