TIFFIN, Oh - On Saturday morning, the Cross Country Cats sent 32 runners to the Walsh Jesuit Pat Ritchie Invitational and 14 runners to the Tiffin Carnival in the afternoon. In four races, the Varsity Cats won first place in the Boys High School Division I-A Varsity at Tiffin, the JV Cats earned fifth place in the Boys High School Division I-B Varsity at Tiffin, the JV-B Cats finished in third place at the Boys Junior Varsity at Walsh Jesuit, and the Open Cats won first place in the Boys Open at Walsh Jesuit.
At 9:30 a.m., Conor McGuire led the JV-B cats off with a third-place finish in 18:40, Brendan McGraw and Will Scott finished 10-11 at 19:00, and Tim Schmelter and Shivam Pandya finished 17-19 in 19:22 and 19:25. Scoring only 60 points in the JV race earned the team third place to Chardon and Massilon Perry. The Wildcats dominated in the 10:30 a.m. open race, placing all five scorers in the top eight and ten runners in the top 20 in a race against ten other schools. Christian Wolke was the top scorer in 18:29 with second place (and only scoring one point due to the first place runner not being a part of a full team), followed by John Scally, Matthew Muntean, and Will Nicklas scoring 2-3-4 in 4-5-6 places, and Peter Spellacy ran 19:33 to score six points. The open team scored only one point away from perfection with 16.
Overall, running together was the Cats’ most substantial move in this race, with many trios and duos finishing in close proximity, showing great team running. The Cats won by 62 points, with McDonald in second with 78 points. Overall, the Cats had a great showing at Walsh Jesuit.
At 3:30 p.m. in Tiffin, The JV Cats ran in the 17th race so far of the day at the Tiffin Carnival. A total of 25 races were run at the Carnival at Hedges Boyer Park on Saturday, September 11, 2021, with 2,510 high school athletes competing and additional elementary schoolers. The Tiffin Carnival is widely regarded as the second biggest cross country meet in the United States, behind only the Mt. SAC XC Invitational in California.
Joey Sepesy came in 33rd in his race, scoring as the first man on JV this week in a time of 18:10, followed by Caleb DelaCruz in 18:16 with 34 points. Aiden Walter was third for the team in 18:23, scoring 43 points and Ben Showman and Owen Rodstrom both ran 18:37 scoring, 58 and 60 points. Cael Luecke and CJ Lyon were the six and seven in 18:55 and 19:39. In this Varsity-B race, the Cats took fifth place, scoring 228 against some varsity and JV teams from other schools.
The Varsity boys race, also known as the Norm Grimes race, is traditionally one of the most hotly contested races during the regular season. The Cats in this race scored 2-5-13-14-25-61-114, suitable for a total of 59 points from the top five, winning the biggest race of the day and defeating second-place St. Edward by 67 points and third place Olentangy Orange by 95. Scoring for the Cats were Matt Kelly in 15:40, Sean Uhran in 15:53, Alex Paliga in 16:20, John Corrigan in 16:22, and Danny Becker in 16:38. All five scorers ran lifetime bests en route to victory. Sixth and seventh, the “displacers” (because their placement can add more points to other team’s scorers) were Freddy Becker in 17:19 and Ronan Donnelly—in his freshman varsity debut 18:01.
The Varsity Cats are now 2-0 running full-strength and have one of the lowest top five averages that Saint Ignatius has had in recent years. Incredibly, after only three regular-season races, the top five Cats have an average PR of 16:11.1. Over the previous four years, the Cats have had average PR’s from their top five of 16:18.8, 16:25.5, 16:27.8, and 16:19.4.
Only in 2016, where the team averaged 16:04.8, can this year’s varsity squad find a lower average time in the previous five years. However, knowing what it takes to win a state championship —a 15:42.1 average by the 2015 state title team—the 2021 Cats are not settling down now.
Next week, the whole team will run at the Boardman Spartan Invitational, the who’s-who race of Northeast Ohio Cross Country regular season. This meet will be stacked with top teams and individuals. This week’s OATCCC two rankings, the #4 Massilon Jackson, #6 Saint Ignatius, #7 Louisville, #8 Solon, and #10 St. Edward teams will be there. On the individual side will be the current #2,5,10,12,14(Kelly),15,20,23,27,and 32(Uhran) runners in the state. In total, there will be 12 runners at this race who have already broken 16 minutes.
Full Results from Saturday: https://www.baumspage.com/cc/ccevent.php?peventid=81&table=C.