It’s been an historic season for the Anthony Wayne High School boys cross country team, coach Kevin O’Connor said.
Last year, the Generals ended a 37-year Northern Lakes League drought by winning the league title for the first time since 1984 and claimed the league title again this year.
On November 5, the team finished 16th in a very competitive Division I state championship meet, with 178 runners from 53 schools.
The Generals’ individual times and places include: junior Connor Long, 16:04.40, 29th place and All-Ohio; freshman Benjamin Gasiorski, 16:48.30, 85th place; senior Aiden Lengel, 16:57.10, 98th place; senior Matthew Dittus, 17:02, 109th place; junior Connor Neumeyer, 17:36.50, 151st place; sophomore Ryan Shelton, 17:47, 159th place; and freshman Joshua Bighouse, 18:18, 170th place.
The state meet mirrored the excellence that’s been displayed throughout the season, O’Connor said.
During the October 15 Northern Lakes League meet, Long led the way, winning the individual championship.
Gasiorski came flying in to finish fourth, Lengel won a battle down the stretch to take seventh, Dittus ran strong all day to take 10th in his best time of the year and Neumeyer went sub-16 at the right time to help vault his team to the championship.
Bighouse and Shelton ran terrific races with season-best times to help the Generals claim their second consecutive league championship and ninth in school history, O’Connor said.
“At the regional meet on October 29, the boys were racing knowing that our region only gets two berths in the state championship and knowing, unlike last year, that they would be the hunted, not just the hunter,” O’Connor said.
“Even with those stakes, the boys ran a super smart race to run their way to the regional runner-up spot and clinch a spot in this year’s Division I state championship.”
Long led the way, as he has all year, and gave his team a low number by finishing second overall in the race. Gasiorski came trucking along in ninth place with his senior teammates, Dittus and Lengel, finishing 12th and 13th.
Neumeyer, in that pivotal fifth-man spot, chewed up ground and passed up several competitors on his way to finishing 45 seconds faster than he did on the same course in September.
Shelton and Bighouse both improved on their times from the September 10 Tiffin Carnival.
“All in all, this team effort was enough to secure the regional runner-up spot and a chance to compete in the state championship meet for the second year in a row, after no team appearance for AW boys since 1983,” O’Connor said.