Both cross country teams marched through the postseason. Led by Seniors Alex Kenish and Brant Yocum on the boys side and Sophomore Abby Schroff and Senior Paige Benecke on the girls, both teams ended up state qualifiers.
To kick off the postseason, the teams traveled down the road to Liberty High School for the OCC championship race on October 12th. The boys won the meet, becoming OCC Champions, and the girls finished runner ups in the first race of the postseason.
“Every cross country race before the postseason is like a practice race for the Varsity, so we want to be confident, feeling good and knowing how we want to race by the postseason,” Boys Head Coach Adam Walters said.
One week later, both teams finished as runner ups at districts. Details of when and where
Benecke said the team dynamic changed drastically at this point in the season.
“In the regular season, we were focused but were mainly trying to just improve and get ready for postseason. Whereas in postseason, our focus became performing as well as possible individually and as a team,” Benecke said.
The Pioneers then advanced to the regional championships at Pickerington North High School on date. The boys earned third place and the girls earned fifth.
“The most challenging post season course was definitely regionals,” Benecke said, “It was raining before and during the race, so footing was bad plus a lot of mud and the course had two hills.
This race was especially different from last year.
“Last year we were banged up from basically districts on, and it affected our ability at regionals. This year I felt we were healthier going into regionals,” Walters said.
Both teams advanced to the state meet, being the second time both the boys and girls teams have done so in the same year. The top seven runners on each team got to compete at the National Trail Raceway on November 2nd. Kenish and Benecke led their teams with 16:33 and 19:27 finishes, respectively.
However, the state meet was not Kenish’s last cross country race, as a week after the meet he announced that he has committed to Akron University to continue to run track and cross country.
Sophomore Abby Schroff reflected on her first state meet and said, “Running in the state meet was incredible and at the same time scary. You are surrounded by so many talented people who have all earned their spot there, and it really is just an amazing atmosphere.”
Walters was noticeably happy with the team’s postseason run, stating that the team had accomplished all of its performance goals set at the beginning of the season.
“We were runner ups at OCCs and districts, which alone are great accomplishments, and then we qualified for states which was an even bigger accomplishment,” Schroff said.