Area harriers qualify for regional meet

CAMBRIDGE — The second season of cross country got under way for area harriers Saturday.

The quest for the OHSAA State Cross Country Championship began around the Buckeye State with district competition taking center stage. The Eastern District held its meet under ideal conditions at sun-drenched Cambridge High School.

Though the state meet is the ultimate goal, it’s still all a process and that continues into next weekend’s regional meet at Pickerington North High School for four individuals and a team in Division III as well as six individuals and a team in Division II.

Division III

Shadyside junior Chase Stewart hasn’t been bashful when asked about his goals for the season. He fully expects to be competing in the state meet at National Trail Raceway on Nov. 4.

The talented Tiger took the first step toward accomplishing that by winning the district championship, which is the first in his career.

“I felt great (physically) and I knew I had to be confident during the race,” Stewart said. “I hadn’t raced against a lot of these guys. I just had to stay positive and run my race.”

Stewart stuck to the game plan to a tee. He sat back with the lead pack before surging on a downhill into the second mile, which gave him a lead he never relinquished. Stewart broke the finish tape in 16 minutes, 43.1 seconds.

“I think I was ninth here last year and ran 17:58, so I’ll take it,” Stewart said. “I am the strongest I’ve ever been and I just need to go into (the regional) with the same mentality I came into (Saturday) with. I just have to continue to run my race.”

Joining Stewart at the starting line next weekend will be the Barnesville Shamrocks. Coach Mark Brown’s team grabbed the third and final team spot with 91 points.

Leading the way for the Shamrocks was senior Sam Wehr, who was ninth overall in 17:34. Senior Cole Meyers was 13th overall in 17:57. Junior Aaron Marovich was the third Shamrock to cross the line, while senior John Crum was fourth. Rounding out the scoring was sophomore Ryan Crum.

The small-school girls delegation was significantly trimmed because only two teams and eight individuals advanced. Thus, only three area harriers survived.

Leading the way was Shadyside sophomore Katie James. She finished third in 20:20. River sophomore Olivia Beard was fourth in 20:37 and Bellaire sophomore Katrina Davis was sixth in 21:11.

Division II

The Harrison Central Huskies, who competed in Division III a season ago, squeezed onto the regional team qualifier list by a point over Cambridge. The Huskies compiled 191 points, which was one fewer than the Bobcats.

The Huskies were led by Keishi Arnold, who was 17th in 17:36. Junior Sam McClelland was 21st in 17:41.

Logan Laney, Adam Ripley and Eric Leech rounded out the scoring.

Individually, Martins Ferry senior Marcus Clark led the way. He was the top area finisher, placing sixth in 17:09. Classmate Ozy Gil advanced by virtue of his 24th place finish.

He’ll be joined by St. Clairsville’s duo of Zachary Banks and Zach Orzolek. Banks was 19th and Orzolek took the next-to-last qualifying spot in 23rd.

The Huskies’ girls team will be represented by talented freshman Jasmine Arnold. She finished 10th in 19:36.

Joining her at the regional starting line will be Martins Ferry junior Olivia Walton. She ran a 20:29 to finish 18th overall.