BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Being the favorite to win a race is all well and good, but to go out and do it is actually what makes it into the history books.
Maumee senior Eric Board added his own page to those books on a sloppy and muddy track at Whiteford Valley Golf Course last Saturday, winning the Northern Lakes League individual title.
Board sat atop the league all year with the fastest posted time, and as one of the top two runners to return from last year’s NLL meet, Board was an easy and obvious choice to win this edition of the meet.
“I knew I had the No. 1 time going in, but I didn’t look at that, I threw that out the window,” Board said. “Whoever wanted to have it more and showed up was going to win. That’s what I did.
“The pressure, it scared me a little bit, but I used that nervousness with the adrenaline and got everything going.”
Board finished the race in a time of 17:49.9, more than two minutes slower than last year’s winner and nearly 1:30 behind his own pace last season.
Panthers coach Karen Brebberman, however, said with the condition of the course – the boys varsity race was the fourth and final of the morning, leaving the course chewed up – had her focusing on placing and not times.
“Mentally, he had to be tough and prepared,” Brebberman said. “We knew it would be about placing and the attitude he had to do that. It’s the first step and next is district.”
Board became the first Maumee runner to win the NLL title since Zak Kirk won the second of two straight meets in 2016.
That year, Kirk went on to claim the Division I individual district title in Findlay. Board will run the course at Findlay’s Owens Community College on Saturday with the same goal in mind.
“This is the first step, first meet of the postseason,” he said. “Now it’s all about placing and one week at a time. This is the first step, you’ve got to survive and advance.”
Nick Johnstone was second among Panthers runners and Vaughn Gugger third as Maumee finished seventh.
Anthony Wayne won the team title, followed closely by Perrysburg.
While Eric Board is making his final sweep through this season’s meets, freshman Lucy Porter is showing the future is bright for Maumee cross country.
Porter continued her impressive first year on varsity, placing fifth in the Northern Lakes League meet and earning first-team All-NLL honors.
“She pretty much held third, fourth place all race,” Brebberman said. “As a freshman, I couldn’t be prouder of her for this.
“She’s young, she’s still growing. She’s realizing the potential and the results of hard work. In a couple of years, I hope I’m standing here saying the same thing about her as an NLL champion.”
Sydney King, Emily Swartz, Claire Farthing and Skyler Janes rounded out the top five as the Panthers placed sixth as a team.
Perrysburg scored a perfect 15 points to win the team title, followed by Anthony Wayne. The Yellow Jackets’ Aubrey Duhaime won the individual title.