Boys and Girls cross country place first in OHSAA District Championship

Lauren Serge | Staff Writer

After winning the GMC, the boys and girls cross country team competed in the Southwest Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) District Championship on October 21 at Voice of America Park.

The boys team placed first with 20 points, a 60-point lead in front of Turpin, the runner-up. Head coach Thomas Rapp said the win generated from their consistent preparation early on in the year.

“We seek to be at our best these last three weeks of the season, so from June we’re thinking about the last two weeks of October and the first week of November,” Rapp said.  “It’s always our focus.”

Rapp said Seniors Abel Nijakowski and Michael Uematsu have greatly contributed to the success of the team by serving as role models to the rest of the boys.

“Both of them have been senior leaders all year long and they know this is their last chance to really shine,” Rapp said. “They have taken it upon themselves to not only be fast runners, but to be leaders of the rest of the team.”

Senior Abel Nijakowski achieved first place with a time of 15:39, a new personal record. Nijakowski said he was excited by the outcome after setting their goal for top five in today’s meet. He said the motivation from Coach Rapp gave the team a positive drive to succeed.

“We just trust the system that Coach Rapp has,” Nijakowski said. “Most importantly, he motivates us to run our best and our hardest and he really believes in us.”

Rapp said the road to regionals and state is promising with the team’s persistence and eagerness to excel.

“I feel like our team’s gelling at just the right time and there’s a lot of great teams out there, but with our A-plus game, I think we can be quite good.” Rapp said.

The girls team won with 57 points, a shocking one-point lead to runner-up Lakota East. Head coach Chip Dobson said the win was nerve-wracking, but well deserved.

“It was truly gratifying. The girls have worked really hard; they’ve come really far and so to win it is always an honor, to win it by a point is a scary honor, but nonetheless, and honor,” Dobson said.

Sophomore Brooke Harvey finished in seventh place with a new personal record of 19:04. She said she felt privileged to win today as well, especially after the constant effort put forth by her team. She said her own personal strategies aided her to encourage her teammates.

“I work hard everyday and try to encourage my teammates to that they can be running along with me and we can all push each other to do great at meets like these,” Harvey said. “I’m just really happy that our team was able to pull off another win.”  

Harvey said their methods were reflected by the pressure to win the district meet, to keep the tradition going. However, Harvey said the fortification from Coach Dobson and the eagerness to reach state made their plans easy to execute.

“I think our plan was mainly just to go out there, get out hard, pass people in the second mile, and just be strong,” Harvey said.

Dobson said the following meets will be tough challenges to face, but the attitude and sportsmanship of the team will hopefully bring them together for the outcome.  

“I think this team works very hard, and  they have a strong spirit,” Dobson said. They love each other and I think they run with a purpose bigger than just running.”

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Photos by Lauren Serge.