It appears that powerhouse Cincinnati LaSalle will be heavily favored
to win this week's Race of Champions based on their first two
meets of the season. They had a perfect score of 15 in
their first invitational at Wilmington and then dominated the
field of 25 teams this past weekend at the Treaty City Invitational
in Greenville. Seniors Jake Nusekabel (15:55), Kyle Lang
(15:55) and Corey Spriggs (15:59) led LaSalle to a 51-160 victory!
are 5 or 6 teams that will do battle for the other top spots
on Saturday. Host schools Hilliard Darby and Hilliard Davidson
have started the season well. Darby has looked good in
an invitational win the first weekend of the season and a solid
2nd place showing to LaSalle this past weekend as Joseph Jackson
II (15:58, 15:50) won both races. Davidson looked strong
in their season debut with Nathan Tavenor (16:04) leading the
The pack from Massillon Perry scored just 40 points
in an 18-team field at Avon Lake this weekend and should do very
well. Chardon, led by Emil Heineking (15:55) and Luke Grau
(16:25) easily won a small invitational a few days ago. Scott
Hildritch (16:28) led Peninsula Woodridge to a blowout victory
at the Dave Clegg Invitational. Woodridge scored just 21
points to defeat 11 other teams handily.
The individual race should be outstanding! Heineking will
be the favorite but Jackson, Tavenor, Hildritch and the LaSalle
boys will be in hot pursuit which could lead to some blistering
times on Saturday.
We are anticipating a great team battle on the girls side
at the MMOC! Indianapolis Cathedral, led by Katy Achtien
(18:53), looked great in their dominating win at an invitational
in Toledo this weekend. Their pack (2nd thru 7th) was
separated by just 24 seconds. Bowling Green looks to be the
best D1 team in Ohio again as they have taken 2 titles in the early
season. Led by Christy Titus (18:37) and Barbara Powers (19:12),
the Bobcats have a 1-2 punch and a solid supporting cast.
St. Ursula crushed their competition at the Hillsboro Invitational
(taking the top 4 spots in a field of 27 teams) with a tight pack
(top 7 gap of 48 seconds) on Saturday. Michigan powerhouse
Clarkston (3-time defending D1 state champs) should be right near
the top as well. Cincinnati Colerain, led by Erin Ragouzis
(18:42) should be strong once again. They place a strong
3rd (out of 25 teams) at Greenville. Defending
D2 state champs Salem are led by Liz and Lauren Shivers (both
at 19:30) and will be in contention as well.
Bekah Smeltzer from Monroe Jefferson will be the top individual
to watch, along with Christy Titus of BG, Katy Achtien of Cathedral
and Erin Ragouzis of Colerain. The competition looks excellent. The course should be flat
and fast and the weather forecast looks very good for the 5th running
of the Midwest Meet of Champions this Saturday morning.
Meet Preview #1 - by Scott Alpeter
The top Boys teams vying for the 2006 title:
Cincinnati LaSalle is loaded this year! They are the defending
Division 1 State Champions in Ohio. The Big Red Express returns
5 of their top 6 runners and should be favored to repeat in Columbus
in November. They were ranked 16th in the nation in the final poll
of 2005. LaSalle will be a hungry team, having finished 3rd in
the Nike Team National Midwest rankings and just missing a trip
to Portland. Coach Frank Russo's squad will be considered the team
to beat at the MMOC.
Peninsula Woodridge finished 3rd in Ohio in
D2 last year and return their top 8 runners this fall! The Bulldogs
are heavy favorites to win the D2 crown this year and will provide
big time competition to LaSalle on September 9th. While the strong
packs of LaSalle and Woodridge make them elite teams, by contrast,
Chardon has some very talented senior front runners, returning
their top 4 from a strong team in 2005. With a smaller field, Chardon
is a real threat to pull the upset in Hilliard.
returns 6 of 7 from their D1 7th place finish of a year ago. The
Panthers are a solid, veteran group and cannot be overlooked as
one of the top teams at the MMOC this year.
Other top boys teams to watch:
Oak Hill was 10th at the Indiana State Meet last year and has 4
of 7 runners returning this year. Host school, Hilliard Davidson
returns 6 of 7 from their 12th place team in Ohio D1 in 2005. Coach
Pat Schlecht should have his squad ready to show well at the meet
he started in 2001. The other host school, Hilliard Darby finished
8th in the state of Ohio last year and returns several key runners
from that squad. Traditionally strong, Hudson finished 10th last
year in Ohio and returns a solid core in 2006. Worthington Kilbourne
returns 4 of 7 from a team that finished 15th in D1 in '05.
Top Girls teams to watch:
Clarkston won the MMOC in 2004 and returns 3 of their top 7 runners
from their powerhouse program that has won 3 straight state Cross
Country titles in Michigan. They ended up ranked 10th in the nation
in 2005. Rumors have been swirling that #1 runner Stephanie Morgan's
family may have moved back to Ohio. This will weaken their chances
of repeating substantially.
Bowling Green has been the best team
in Ohio for 3 straight years and they return the nucleus of their
team this year. BG was a close 2nd to Clarkston in 2004 at this
meet and will be one of the favorites to win the title this year.
Indianapolis Cathedral returns 5 of 6 from the 6th place team in
Indiana last season. We are expecting big things from the Irish
this year! Traverse City Central returns 5 of 7 from a squad that
finished 5th in Michigan in '05. They were 2nd in 2004.
Other top contending teams in the girls race:
Saline finished 7th in the Michigan state meet last fall and return
3 of 7 this season. They are traditionally very strong. Cincinnati
St. Ursula finished 9th in Ohio in 2005 and always has great depth.
Monroe Jefferson was 12th in the Michigan D2 meet last year and
returns all 7 from that squad. Hilliard Darby returns 6 of 7 from
a team that was 13th in Ohio last year. Hilliard Davidson returns
all 7 from a team that was 15th in Ohio in '05. Peninsula Woodridge
returns all 7 from a team that placed well in the D3 state meet
in Ohio last year.
Top individuals to watch in the Boys Race of Champions:
course record stand at 16:18 and we anticipate that the record
will be shattered on September 9th. The individuals to keep an
eye on are Emil Heineking (leading left) of Chardon. He is the
top returning D1 runner from last year's state meet in Ohio (5th
in 15:44) and will be favored to win the individual title at the
MMOC. Emil logged a 24:49 5-mile road race this summer after finishing
runner-up (9:22 in the 3200) to Chad Balyo (8:52 and 5th at NON)
at the state track meet!
Scott Hildritch of Peninsula Woodridge
was runner-up in the 1600 (4:17) this spring and ran 16:01 at the
D2 state CC meet. He will be in the top group at the MMOC. Kyle
Lang (10th last year in 15:59) and Jake Neuskabel (18th in 16:10)
of LaSalle lead a solid pack. Also, JD Horton (16:12 in 2005) of
Massillon Perry, Luke Grau of Chardon who was 4th at the state
track meet (9:27 in the 3200), Nathan Tavenor of Davidson who ran
16:03 at the Ohio State CC meet last year, Joseph Jackson of Darby
(16:25 in '05), Ryan Kiracofe of Cincinnati Turpin (16:28 in 2005)
and John Batchelder of Worthington Kilbourne (4th place 4:20 in
the 1600 and anchor of the champion 4 x 800 relay in track) should
be strong contenders as well.
The top girls to watch in the Girls Race of
The record for the girls course is 18:58. It will likely be the
course record for just a few more days. Bekah Smeltzer (right) of Monroe Jefferson is the two time defending D2 champ (17:44 in
'05) from Michigan and will be favored to win here. Bekah added
2 state track titles (10:42 in the 3200, and 4:57 in the 1600)
to her resume this past spring!
Christy Titus of Bowling Green
has been 9th, 2nd (18:23) and 7th (18:43) at the Ohio state meet
in her previous 3 seasons and finished 3rd in the 3200 (11:02)
this past spring. Katy Achtien of Indianapolis Cathedral was undefeated
until regionals as a freshman last year finishing 6th in the state
of Indiana, Erika Alpeter of Hilliard Darby was 6th (18:37) in
Ohio last season.
Taylor Mattarella of Traverse City Central had
a great freshman season (18:49 at the Michigan state meet in '05)
as did teammates Emily Sabo (19:49 in D3) and Erin Mercer (5:06
in the 1600) of Peninsula Woodridge.