BY KEVIN O’CONNOR | CROSS COUNTRY COACH — For the first time since 1983, the Anthony Wayne boys cross country team is headed to the state championship meet.
The boys won the Division 1 regional cross country championship last Saturday.
Similar to their Northern Lakes League title two weeks ago, this was a total team victory for the Generals.
Connor Long and Aiden Lengel led the way by finishing in the top eight, which would have sent them to Columbus as individual qualifiers if the team had not qualified.
The AW team as a whole was determined, however. Matt Dittus was right there with Long and Lengel, finishing 10th overall. Rory Smith and Connor Neumeyer had huge finishes, both gobbling up a gob of jerseys on their way to the finish line.
Those efforts not only put the Generals in the state meet but also made them regional champs.
Every place counts in cross country and that was demonstrated to the extreme on October 30, as the boys won the regional championship by one point over a talented St. Francis team. Alex Konoff and Will Boyd gave good efforts on the sloppy course.
Individual results include Long with a time of 16:45.1, Lengel (16:52.7), Dittus (17:09.4), Smith (17:32.3), Neumeyer (17:57.8), Tiernan Garber (20:01.4) and William Boyd (20:36.8).
Overall, the team time was 1:26:18 for a 5:34 average mile and a total score of 49.
This will be the first time the AW boys team has been to the state meet since 1983 and the first time a General has raced at the state cross country meet since AW had an individual qualifier in 2000.
The girls gave all they had in a race that was both awesome and bittersweet. First, the awesome: For the fourth time in her high school career, Ana Karmol is headed to the state championship.
The top eight individuals qualify for the state meet, and Ana ran hard and with determination to take fourth in Saturday’s regional meet.
Making the state meet once in a career is an accomplishment; making it to the state four times is sensational.
The girls team took third place at regionals, which is both an accomplishment and a bittersweet way to end the season for the team, as only the top two teams at the regional meet qualify for the state meet.
Years ago, third place would have been cause for minor celebration for the team, but the girls have established a standard of excellence by earning their way to the state championship meet in each of the last two years.
With that standard of success, the girls found third place a disappointment, but it shouldn’t be. The third-place team finish marked the conclusion to the excellent high school cross country careers of Cari Varner and Ella Karmol
Their careers saw Ella qualify for the state meet as an individual her freshman year and both Ella and Cari keying the team to qualify for the state meet in their sophomore and junior years.
Their young teammates, Brandy Outly, Maddy Jones, Amelia O’Connor and Marina Humphrey will be back next year to lead this team.
The state championship meet is on Saturday, November 6 at The Fortress in Obetz, just southeast of Columbus.