The 2016 boys Wayne-Holmes Cross Country Invite was a match-up between David and Goliath as the mighty Div. I Wooster Generals squared off with Div. III Smithville in what was expected to be a fantastic day featuring the area’s finest runners.
While there was plenty of talent on display form throughout Holmes and Wayne counties, the fight for first-place was the highlight, as the two talented teams vied for the title.
While Smithies’ star Joey Courdriet ran away with the win, it would be Wooster’s depth that would eventually make the Generals a winner.
Wooster totaled 37 points, slipping by the Smithies, who ended the day with 43. Orrville would end up third with 98, followed by Triway (123), Chippewa (139) and West Holmes (165).
The battle for supremacy began at the front, where Smithies and Generals littered the pack. Courdriet was simply dominant, getting out in front and staying well ahead of everyone.
“It was about the same pace as last year, and I knew I had more in me, and so I just started pushing as hard as I could, because my goal was to break 16 today,” said Courdriet. He did, finishing in a PR time of 15:57, 13 seconds below his previous best of 16:10 set earlier this year at Boardman.
“The last mile I saw my two teammates right behind me, and I was super-pumped, they got PRs too.”
For much of the race, his teammates Lucas Clark and Justin McKeal ran two and three, until Wooster’s Chris Cannon showed off why he is one of the top runners around by crashing that party to take second place in 16:10. Clark (16:21) and McKeal (16:27) would grab third and fourth.
“I wanted to get second today, and we battled it out late running through the woods,” Clark said of taking on Cannon for second. I improved my time by a good 10 seconds, so even though AI didn’t get second, I am still very pleased with how things went.”
However, Wooster would showcase its incredible depth from there out. Placing fifth was Triway star Nich Michels (16:31), with Wooster’s Matt Chidsey (16:31) taking sixth. Generals teammates Conner Niro (16:44) and Jordan Green (16:55) earned first-team honors by placing eight and 10th, while Breydan Hann (17:08) finished out Wooster’s scoring in 11th.
Noah Navratil (17:26) and Noah Riggnebach (17:30) were 17th and 18th to round out Smithville’s scoring.
“It was a nice meet for these guys to come together and run the way they are capable of running,” said Doug Bennett, Wooster coach. “We have been looking for this all season long. I think part of it is because we are running in our home county. There is a certain amount of confidence that comes with that, and a little bit of energy you draw from people coming to watch you run. We were energized, and they ran smart races, running capable of what we were capable of doing. I think there is room for improvement, but we are starting to feel our way around here about what is possible.”
Orrville’s Soloman Swanson was ecstatic with his effort. A PR of 17:10 placed him 12th, earning him all-county second team honor. He couldn’t wipe off the grin he wore following the race, proving that cross country isn’t always about winning.
“I’m so excited with the way I ran today, and to finish where I was is awesome,” Swanson said.
Hiland’s Hunter Yoder was another one of those runners who did what he wanted to do, placing 15th in 17:24.
“It was a great run for him,” said Hiland coach Mark Fowler. “He was 19th last year, and to earn second team again this year and improve on last year is a huge plus for him. It was real close to his PR, and on this winding course, that is a great time.”
There are other reasons to run too. West Holmes’ young team had a number of PRs, yet its top runner, senior Vinny DeFelice, was nowhere to be found near the top of the pack where he was expected to be.
That was because the ailing Knight was pacing teammate Jonathan Kandel, a quickly improving runner for West Holmes.
“Vinny hurt himself recently, so he was just pacing Jonathan, and then in the final mile he finally went hard,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Beachy. “Jonathan PR’d, so I guess runners have different goals on the day, and today Vinny’s was not necessarily going out to compete hard.”
1st Team All-County honors were earned by:
1st Joey Coudriet Smithville 15:57
2nd Chris Cannon Wooster 16:10
3rd Lucas Clark Smithville 16:21
4th Justin McKeal Smithville 16:27
5th Nich Michels Triway 16:31
6th Matt Chidsey Wooster 16:34
7th Steven Hennis Chippewa 16:35
8th Conner Niro Wooster 16:44
9th Hunter Kanseg Northwestern 16:48
10th Jordan Green Wooster 16:55
Second Team All-County honors went to:
11th Breydan Hann Wooster 17:08
12th Soloman Swanson Orrville 17:10
13th Alex Thompson Wooster 17:13
14th Caleb Endicott Orrville 17:17
15th Hunter Yoder Hiland 17:24
16th Lane Wilson Wooster 17:25
17th Noah Navratil Smithville 17:26
18th Noah Riggenbach Smithville 17:30
19th Chewy Coetzee Wooster 17:33
20th James Neilson Wooster 17:36