LIMA – Illnesses and nagging injuries caught up to the Fremont Ross cross country teams at the wrong time on Saturday.
The Little Giant boys team finished the TRAC championship meet in a disappointing fifth place with 114 points – just eight behind fourth-place Findlay – while the Lady Giants finished fourth in spite of three finishes in the top 16 overall.
“Both boys and girls, I told them both, while I wasn’t happy with how they ran, I said ‘When it’s all said and done, let’s get better next week,’” coach John Elder said. “(Next week’s district meet) is in Findlay where we ran at Van Burn invite so the kids know the course. It’s a fast course. Hopefully we can get back to health and be ready to go.”
The top of the boys lineup finished as-expected, with Zach Edmonds finishing fourth overall in a time of 17:05.3 and Ethan McClory finishing fifth just 1.5 seconds later, both earned first team all-TRAC status for finishing in the top seven.
But the next three Little Giants, Jake Thompson, Evan Starkweather and Brayden Darr, didn’t cross the finish line until 33rd, 35th and 37th, respectively.
“In our top seven, Zach was under the weather, Braydon was sick and Jake was not 100 percent, he’s been battling either seasonal allergies or a cold, and I don’t know what happened to our other ones.”
The Lady Giants followed the same script as has been the case all season, as they were led by three strong performances but a large gap before the final two finishers kept Ross from greater team success.
Senior McKela Elder placed fourth overall with a time of 20:11 for first-team all-TRAC honors. Freshman Mackenzie Smith earned second-team recognition with a 12th place finish in 21:32, while Allison Taylor finished 16th in 21:32 for third-team all-TRAC honors.
Making their performances all the more impressive was considering how much of the last 24 hours had been spent on a bus.
“It’s funny because those top three were all in the band, they all went to Lima (Friday) night for the (football) game and then got up and went back to Lima (Saturday),” Elder said. “They ran great.”
More than three minutes passed between Taylor finishing and the next Lady Giant, McKenna Englund, who crossed the finish line in 39th place with Kelli Byrne coming in 43rd.
Elder hopes his runners can get healthy in time for Saturday’s district meet in Findlay, where he believes as many as five runners can finish in the top 12 of their races to qualify for the regional meet.
“I have high expectation for Ethan, Zach and McKela,” Elder said. “And if Mackenzie runs like she did (Saturday) she could make it out, which would be really exciting. Allison has an outside chance, but you never know at these big meets how people handle the big meets.”
TRAC CHAMPIONSHIP MEET
Team Results: St. John’s 47, Whitmer 53, St. Francis 60, Findlay 106, Fremont Ross 114, Oregon Clay 151, Lima Senior 216.
Zach Edmonds, 4th overall, 17:05.3
Ethan McClory, 5th, 17:06.8
Jake Thompson, 33rd, 19:08.3
Evan Starkweather, 35th, 19:23.3
Brayden Darr, 37th, 19:54.3
Isaias Ortiz, 38th, 20:27.8
Trenton Ward, 43rd, 21:40
Team Results: St. Ursula 45, Findlay 49, Notre Dame 89, Fremont Ross 110, Oregon Clay 115, Whitmer 131, Lima Senior 221.
McKela Elder, 4th overall, 20:11.1
Mackenzie Smith, 12th, 20:53.0
Allison Taylor, 16th, 21:32.6
McKenna Englund, 39th, 24:49.5
Kelli Byrne, 43rd, 25:12.1
Sarah Burciaga, 45th, 25:52.4
Grace Egbert, 46th, 26:10.4