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MOAC chasing state championships

Five conference schools in cross country finals

1:00 AM, Nov. 02, 2012 EDT

Five schools will represent the MOAC Saturday at the state cross country tournament at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

The Mount Gilead girls are ranked 10th in the Division III coaches' poll going into the race.

Team members Bryanna Bolha, Rachel Bush, Taryn Chapman, Sophia Friessen, Raychel Gress, Makenzie McKirgan and Jenna Shipman finished first at regionals in Pickerington last week with 92 points. Their average time for the 5K course was 20:45.66.

Head coach Denny West said the team has been running better overall, and that "anything can happen."

"We don't have a front runner, we have a nice pack that carries a lot of credibility," he said.

West said his squad might face tough opposition from Liberty Center and Minster.

"It should be a dogfight," he said. "They have a chance. They've set goals, most are pretty achievable."

He said each runner wants to make a season-best time or a career record.

River Valley's Wyatt Uresti and Hannah Campbell are racing individually in Div. II.

Campbell was third in the girls' division, with an average time of 6:04.4 and an 18:52.10 finish. Uresti finished 16th in Pickerington with an 5:28.5 average mile and a total time of 17:00.57. Both are juniors making their third trip to the state cross country meet.

Vikings head coach Aric Smith said Campbell will face a tough opponent, a freshman from Dayton Oakwood named Mary Kate Vaughan who is clocking times less than 18 minutes.

Vaughan finished in 17:51.93 at her regionals in Troy.

"It all depends on the course, but everyone's probably running for second," Smith said.

He said Campbell has to get out in front of the other runners in the beginning so they can't kick in and catch her at the end.

Uresti is aiming to finish the course in 16:40 or less, Smith said.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "But sometimes Wyatt can bring one out of nowhere."

He said he's enjoyed talking strategy with his two runners.

"I'm talking to Hannah, and we're talking about coming in second," he said. "And sometimes I take a step back and think we're not talking about finishing second in the district, I'm talking this strategy to get second in the state.

"It's kind of fun."

Jacob Long of Cardington-Lincoln and Dexter McColly of Pleasant are racing for Div. III and Logan Ebersole of Highland is racing for Div. II.

Div. III boys start at 11:00 a.m., Div. II at 11:45 and Div. I at 12:30 p.m. Div. III girls start at 1:30 p.m., Div. II at 2:15 p.m. and Div. I at 3 p.m.




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