OBETZ – The West Liberty-Salem girls cross country team placed third and the WL-S boys squad was fourth at the Division III state meet on Saturday.
The WL-S girls finished third behind first-place Minster and Rittman. It was the sixth consecutive top 5 state finish for the Big Orange girls.
For the Tigers, Malia Miller was 16th in a career-best 18:55.0, Breece Gullett was 64th in 20:04.70, Ashley Yoder was 72nd in 20:12.10, Addison McAuley was 82nd in 20:19.30, Gwen McCullough was 106th in 20:43.80, Hattie Jacobs was 127th in 21:18.60 and Mallory Bostick was 150th in 21:48.20.
“These athletes make it look easy year in and year out, but what people don’t see is the relentless hard work, the resilience, and the physical and mental investments they make all year to be at the top,” said WL-S Coach Ann Vogel. “Saying I’m proud of them doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of how I feel about this team. They truly understand that running is so much more than times, wins and losses. It’s about challenging yourself, supporting your teammates and building lifelong friendships. It’s been an honor for me to be on this journey with them.”
“Malia’s goal all year was to crack into the 18s and to do it at the state meet when everything is on the line, goes to show you the kind of gutsy runner that she is. She has totally bought into her training and has become a force in her own right,” Vogel added.
Mechanicsburg’s Clair Rodgers placed 69th in 20:07.92 and Isabelle Rodgers was 76th in 20:15.04.
The WL-S boys finished fourth behind first-place Columbus Grove, Mount Gilead and Maplewood.
WL-S’s placing marks the best finish for the Big Orange boys since the school’s last state championship in 1979.
For the Tigers, Asher Knox was 21st in 16:21.46, Caleb Larson was 63rd in 17:00.04, Troy Bradley was 64th in 17:02.23, Dylan King was 83rd in 17:18.36, Brevin Louden was 113th in 17:40.99, Quentin Rudolph was 116th in 17:45.20 and Garrett Wallen was 124th in 17:55.79.
“Emotions are all over the place with the final result,” said WL-S Coach Mike Louden. “The bottom line is that I’m proud of every one of these young men for the effort they put forth. Finishing with the program’s best finish in the 5k Era, and the best team finish since the last state title in 1979, is definitely something to celebrate. I applaud all 14 guys and the contributions they gave to the program this year.”
Mechanicsburg’s Will Negley placed 18th in 16:15.72 and Beck Negley was 38th in 16:42.59.