FAYETTE CROSS COUNTRY: After six years of running around cross country courses, Fayette senior Darrell Randall saved the best for last.
He turned in a career-best time Saturday at Ohio’s state finals to place 17th in Div. III.
His effort was just a little short of where he wanted to be—standing on the all-state podium to receive a medal—but it was an excellent accomplishment to cap his standout career, coach Bryan Stambaugh said.
“He was disappointed at first,” Stambaugh said, “but then he realized his achievement.”
His time of 16:11 was a 13-second improvement over his previous best, and he also finished ahead of several runners who beat him earlier in the season and as recently as a week ago at the regional race.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him,” Stambaugh said. “He had a 100 percent day.”
Randall got off to a fast start with a 4:35 three kilometer time—a little faster than he wanted—and stayed in a pack of runners behind the initial cluster who finished below 16 minutes.
With about half a mile to go Randall was running in 14th, but was passed by two runners down the stretch.
“He was running as hard as he could,” Stambaugh said, “but he was already faster at that point than he’d ever been.”
Ironically, his 16:11 would have placed 13th in the state among the larger Div. II schools. Stambaugh looked back at Fayette graduate Heath Armstrong’s final run at the state meet, and that also points to the tough competition in this year’s Div. III race. Armstrong was only four seconds faster, but his time that year was good for fifth place.
Colin Cotton of Cincinnati Summit won the 2010 race at 15:32, just four seconds in front of the nearest competitor. Colin Fisher of Delta came through with the top time among area runners with a fourth-place 15:40.
Delta, coached by former Morenci distance runner Jeff Taylor, placed third in the state. Independence took the team championship.
Coach Stambaugh will have one more season of Randall’s running in the spring on the track team. He hopes to be equally impressed with his senior’s efforts then.
“He really stepped it up Saturday and that was impressive to me,” he said.
MORENCI CROSS COUNTRY: By DAVID GREEN
It was almost as if Morenci had two freshmen running at this year’s state cross country meet, and both of them produced their top times of the season.
The senior qualifier, Tyler Guelde, competed in cross country for the first time ever. Morenci’s other qualifier, Mariah Gillen, made the cut as a freshman.
Guelde trimmed about 20 seconds off his previous best to place 35th in Div. IV at 17:04.
The senior was tripped up in the first mile of the race on the grounds of Michigan International Speedway, but he was quickly on his feet and didn’t lose much time from the incident, said coach Brad Brown.
“When he came by me with about half a mile to go, he was in 35th place,” Brown said. “He did well to hold onto that for the finish.”
At that point he didn’t have anything left to close the gap to the next pack of runners, Brown said.
Brown was pleased with Guelde’s efforts, both for his first year out and for his first appearance at the state finals.
That goes for freshman Mariah Gillen, as well.
Gillen was nervous before the big race, but she didn’t get caught up in the adrenalin rush of the massive start, Coach Brown said.
She held her own in the crowd and produced her top time of the season at 21:34 for 108th place.
Kyle Tait of Big Rapids Crossroads Charter Academy was the Div. IV state champion with a time of 15:25. Kirsten Olling of Breckenridge was top in the girls race at 18:09. The freshman ran under 18 minutes in the regional race.
“I was really happy not just with Saturday’s runs, but with the season as a whole,” Coach Brown said. “Top to bottom, all of our athletes got the most out of themselves.”
He’s looking for additional team members for next year’s competition. In addition to Guelde, he’ll lose Micah Gillen through graduation, along with Barbara Hollstein from the girl’s team.
MORENCI VOLLEYBALL: Heartbreak. Nothing but heartbreak.
Just when it looked as though the Bulldogs were on their way to an upset over No. 9 ranked Lenawee Christian School, the Cougars reversed the flow of the match and knocked Morenci out of the district tournament.
It took LCS five games to claim the victory, and every game but one was close. That one came when the Bulldogs notched a surprising 25-11 win.
Morenci maintained the flow into the next game—what looked to be the match winner—when the Cougars finally came alive. Trailing 9-17, LCS came back to take a 27-25 win before ending the match with a 15-11 game.
The Cougars won the opener, 25-23, then fell to Morenci 24-26 and 11-25.
“It was a tough one to lose,” coach Dennis Owens said, “and losing Meghan Smith in warm-ups was difficult.”
Each team had one starter out of the lineup and made quick adjustments. For the Bulldogs, junior Carolyn Blaker moved into the front row to replace Smith.
“Carolyn really stepped in with no warning and did a nice job,” Owens said. “The team really rallied and adjusted well to that big change.
Tia Tompkins was at her best and filled some of the gap with Smith out.
“Tia played a tremendous match,” Owens said. “She and Phoenix [Duncan] were really dominant at the net.”
Owens also cited Mercedez McCaskey as playing one of the best matches of her career.
“There was no one who played poorly that night,” he said. “I am very proud of my team.”
The Bulldogs ended the season with a 15-14-4 record.
Tess Ramsey led serving stats with a perfect 25/25, with one ace and 14 points. Matea Garcia went 26/27, with three aces and 17 points. Chelsea Phillips served five aces.
Tompkins finished with 25 kills and six blocks. Duncan added 18 kills and six blocks.
McCaskey gave 19 assists and Ramsey added 18. Tompkins made 24 digs, Duncan had 18 digs and Garcia made 13.