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University, St. C., Ferry, Caldwell claim OVAC Boys CC titles

CAMBRIDGE — At University, St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry and Caldwell winning has become a habit.

Especially as it pertains to the sport of cross country.

After all, those schools entered Saturday’s annual OVAC Cal Pokas Cross Country Championship meet at Cambridge High School having combined for 43 conference championships.

Now all four are making room in their respective trophy cases for another trophy after they prevailed once again.

University, which won its eighth title, won the 5A and overall crown with 36 points. Wheeling Park finished second.

St. Clairsville recorded its 12th crown by winning the 4A trophy with 306 points. Oak Glen was the runnerup.

Martins Ferry pocketed its 12th conference banner and finished fifth overall with an impressive 179 points. Bellaire grabbed the second-place plaque.

Caldwell won the combined 1A/2A title, which is the Redskins 15th overall with 245 points. Southern Local was second.

Here’s a look at the classes:

1A/2A

Caldwell has been impressive time and time again at the OVAC meet. The Redskins had only five runners compete, but all finished inside the top 65 overall for the title.

Wheeling Central freshman Aidan Scott continued his fine first season by winning the individual small-school title. He was 10th overall for All-OVAC.

3A

Martins Ferry hasn’t had an individual champion at basically any invitational it’s ran all season. But, Chrissy Lewis’ Purple Riders have continually found themselves at or near the top of seemingly every team score listing.

And that continued again. The Purple Riders did it with depth, placing all seven of their runners inside the top 60 (with displacement).

“The kids really feed off of each other,” Ferry head coach Chrissy Lewis said. “They enjoy each other’s company, train together well and it’s been a nice few years of pack running. We’re hoping that one of them is able to break away a little bit.”

Ferry was led by All-OVAC finisher Elijah Smith, who crossed in 29th overall with a time of 17:45.

Just missing the All-OVAC listing was Francis Toohey, but he was second on his team. Other scorers for the Purple were Charlie Anderson, Wyatt Wodarcyk and Trent Lewis.

The individual champion in the class was Fort Frye’s Phinn Spindler. He finished 16th overall in 17:12.

Other All-OVAC performers in this class included: Bellaire’s Jacob Defibaugh, who was 18th overall in 17:22 and Barnesville’s Tyler Jenkins, who finished 24th overall in 17:33.

4A

The Red Devils had nary a runner place inside the top 30 overall, but they were able to pack some guys into the middle portion of the overall standings, which proved to be enough.

“Years and years ago, I took a (boys) team to state and we focused on beating just one team and it cost us because that was all we really focused on, so because of that lesson, we came in trying to simply focus on beating all of the 4A schools and not just this one or another one,” St. C. Head coach Tony Ciroli said. “Everyone was our competition and the kids really ran pretty well. We raced against the clock and I think we ran OK.

“We had some nerves, and I came here with butterflies in my stomach,” Ciroli continued. “I am excited that we won. The kids came through and we’re hoping to build on this when we come back to this course in a couple of weeks for the district.”

Doing the scoring for the Red Devils were Hunter Tomich, Zack Riffle, Matt Ponzani, Gannon Kazmirski and Nathaniel Ellison.

The top 4A individual finisher was Oak Glen’s Konnor Allison, who was impressive en route to finishing fourth overall in 16:15. East Liverpool’s Brannan Smith and Union Local’s Shawn Coe were the only other runners from this class to garner All-OVAC. They finished 20th and 27th, respectively.

5A

The Hawks were simply too much for the rest of the field.

Junior Larry Josh Edwards basically sprinted the 3.1 mile race in 15:14 to win the overall top spot and the class title.

All five of University’s scorers cracked the top 15 overall.

Wheeling Park had a strong showing en route to finishing second with 94 points.

The Patriots were led by a quartet of All-OVAC finishers, including Jonah Nizami (8th), Brady Miller (9th), Max Morgan (11th) and Hunter Midcap (25th).

John Marshall’s Mack Allen achieved All-OVAC thanks to finishing seventh overall.

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