BRUNSWICK — The state cross-country championships at Hereford High School are more than two months away, but Oakdale’s boys and Urbana’s girls have already put their focus on the sport’s biggest prize — a state team crown.
The Bears boys, fourth at last year’s Class 2A state meet, launched their bid Saturday, taking four of the top six spots in the large school division race on their way to a 21-61 win over Northwest at the annual Lee and Anne Zumbach Invitational at Brunswick High School.
“That’s our goal,” Oakdale senior Joshua Milliken said. “This is a team effort as we look to win a state title.”
With the sweep of last year’s Class 2A state indoor and outdoor boys track and field championships, the mindset of the Bears boys is completing the circle with a state championship in November.
“You guys rocked today,” Oakdale boys coach Dave Lillard told his team on Saturday. “You saw the benefit of hard work with this win. You sent a message, loud and clear.”
On the girls side, the Hawks defeated Oakdale 36-49 for the team championship.
The Bears’ Kyle Lund and the Hawks’ Sara Jarman were individual winners. Lund, a senior, won both the overall and large school individual boys divisions, finishing in 16 minutes, 24.29 seconds.
Jarman, also a senior, won the large school girls individual race in 19:47.38 (second overall). Oakdale’s Aubrey Schaffer was second in the large school division (20:22.76). Urbana’s Lula Masters got third (20:4.07).
Lund was pushed during his race — and it came from his teammates.
Fellow senior Collin Dempsey took second (16:33.18). Milliken finished third (16:54.77).
“We knew we had a 1-2 punch,” Lillard said. “But a 1-2-3 punch? ... That was just amazing.”
Typically, cross-country runners try to limit their looks back during a race, so when Lund took his quick peek at the rest of the pack, he found he was in good company.
“To look back and see those two guys right behind me, it was awesome,” Lund said. “I couldn’t have done it without those guys pushing me.”
Lund didn’t waste much time taking command. At the 100-meter mark, he was well into his steady pace, his trademark throughout his high school running career.
Dempsey, Milliken and junior Spencer Showalter (sixth overall, 17:16.57) moved quickly to the front with Lund, soon all but assuring the Bears of the team title. Charles Parrott was the fifth scorer for Oakdale, finishing ninth (17:32.53).
“This group has really got it together,” Lillard said. “The great thing about these guys is they set up their own summer practice schedule. I give them a few guidelines to use, but they take it from there.”
Dempsey said part of the Bears’ training regimen includes critical velocity intervals, which allows a runner to get in the needed volume of quality running, while providing regular feedback and adequate recovery to allow for sustained efforts.
“We work on this a lot in practice,” he said.
Jarman, in her final year for the Hawks, was hoping for a second straight overall race title. She hung with South Carroll’s Grace Siehler as long as she could, Siehler pulled away down the stretch for the overall win (19:27.54), which included the small school division individual title.
“Grace ran a great race,” Jarman said. “I was a little disappointed I didn’t win, but it happens. I’m happy for Grace.”
Medical issues at last year’s state meet kept Jarman out of contention for an individual Class 4A state championship, but she’s back this year with even more resolve for one last shot at a state title.
“That’s my focus this year,” Jarman said.
Sophomore Addision Lauer was seventh for the Hawks in the large school division (21:04.71). Freshman Ivy Coldren got ninth (21:27.57). Sophomore Anika Mahns finished 16th (22:27.38).
Oakdale’s Hayley Ross finished fourth (20:44.66). Emily Baba (21:41.91) and Cailyn Walker (21:54.4) finished 11th and 12th. Freshman Zhana Ivanova finished 20th for Oakdale (23:08.58). Hailey Hallenberg got 21st (23:08.58).
Urbana’s boys were fifth in the large school division (125). Luke Hartlaub was 14th (17:47.13) for the Hawks. Frederick’s Mario Martinez finished 12th (17:40.38). The Cadets’ Carter Stevenson got 15th (17:49.8).
Brunswick’s boys were third in the small school division (106). The Railroaders’ Noah McGillivray finished 17th (18:29.22). Colin Pelkey finished 18th (18:30.09). Caleb Shullenbarger was 20th (18:36.7).
For Walkersville, Owen Welty finished 15th (18:16.23). Middletown’s Zachary Spurrier got 16th (18:24.44).
Brunswick’s girls were fourth in the small school division (85). Elizabeth Willman was 13th for the Railroaders (21:58.68). Jena Rhodes was 16th (22:10.19). Alison Laverty got 17th (22:34.48). Amy Tarcza finished 25th (23:20.54).
Megan Bertolette finished 10th for Walkersville in the girls small school division (21:42.45). Frederick’s Alex Angulo was 23rd in the girls large school race (23:19.42). The Cadets’ Cedar Shapiro got 25th (23:26.43). Frederick was fifth in the girls large school division (142).