By Chris Chaney
When you think about Clermont County high school sports, football, basketball, baseball and softball top the list, but maybe they shouldn’t. After all, the sport in which Clermont schools find the most success might be cross country and that is no coincidence.
“Cross country is a solid sport in the (Southern Buckeye Conference),” Batavia head coach Dona Braswell said. “Even the years that we go on to regionals as a team doesn’t mean that we even won our league. It seems that every year there’s always at least four teams that come out of our league that go on to regionals and it makes it so that everyone pushes everyone else.”
New Richmond head coach Rylan Shebesta echoed her sentiments.
“I’m very happy with our league,” Shebesta said. “Our league is pretty good. The competition is really good. One of the things I tried to do every year is schedule races away from our local meets when I started coaching for more competition, but over the past several years, we’ve had some of the better runners in the area in our conference, so it’s better to go to local meets.”
That pedigree for success was on display at the district meet at a soggy Voice of America Park on Saturday, Oct. 19 as four teams and seven other individuals advanced to the regional meet.
New Richmond was the class of the meet, qualifying both their boys’ and girls’ teams. The girls’ team ran one of their best races of the season, finishing in second place behind Indian Hill.
The boys’ team finished in third place behind Taylor and Wyoming in the District A race.
“That was our ultimate goal; to get both teams through,” Shebesta said. “I predicted with the guys that we would be anywhere from second to fifth. I knew we could finish second if we ran well, but if we didn’t we could finish fifth and not make it.
“With the girls, we were disappointed with second, but when that’s what disappoints you, that means your goals are high. It was a close race, but I didn’t think we ran poorly. We had four girls (set personal records), so I’m happy with where we’re at heading into next week.”
Leading the way for the Lions was Bobby Bingham, who finished fourth in his race with a time of 17:19.32. For the girls, Claire Burns kept up her stellar pace, finishing in third place in the District B race with a time of 20:43.21. Taryn Rupp and Paige Anderson finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
Other teams advancing to the regionals were the Batavia boys and the Bethel-Tate girls.
The Batavia boys were led by Griffin and Hunter Stith. The senior twins finished first and second, respectively. Griffin was the district champion with a 16:48.16 and Hunter was a little ways behind him coming in at 17:11.31. The team finished second behind Indian Hill.
Bethel-Tate’s girls finished third behind New Richmond and Indian Hill in the District B race with Breanna Keyser leading the way with a time of 21:30.93.
Among the more impressive individuals to advance were Goshen’s one-two punch of Brittany Clark and Courtney Taylor. Running alongside New Richmond in the District B race, Clark took the district title and Turner finished second. Clark’s time of 20:26.46 was second to only McNicholas’ Catherine Adams’ 20:25.80.
For the Goshen boys, Daniel Hulsmeyer will represent them, finishing sixth in the District B race with a time of 17:52.81.
Williamsburg’s Roger Thornberry was the lone Clermont County boy in Division III to advance to the regional, finishing in eighth place in the District A heat with a time of 17:46.27.
Thornberry will be accompanied by teammate Heather McIntosh who finished 11th in Division III and Felicity-Franklin’s Christina Paskow who finished in eighth.
Similarly, in Division I, Milford’s AJ Erdaty will be the lone Clermont native to make his way to the regional thanks to an eighth-place finish in the District B flight with a time of 16:25.50.
The regional meet will be held on Oct. 26 at Troy. For more information about the regional meet, such as directions and site managers, log on to ohsaa.org.