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Midwest Meet of Champions

Sept. 27, 2008 at Hilliard Darby OH High School

Preview: #1 OH teams, talented Zach Wills lead MMOC fields

By SteveU and Jonathan Agriesti

(photo, at lower right, via Jonathan Agriesti from masoncomets.org)

Launched in the sober days after 9/11/2001 as an affirmation of life, the Midwest Meet of Champions, hosted by Hilliard Darby HS, is now a fixture as a major meet in the Midwest. Last year's meet was won by nationally ranked Fishers IN boys and Magnificat OH girls.

Now with a date about 3-4 weeks after its traditional running, the MMOC will still showcase many of the top teams and individuals in Ohio, along with a few from bordering states.  It will feature recently-ranked #1 boys and girls D1 teams in Ohio along with others high up on the list.  The atmosphere that will greet the teams and their fans, will include music and play-by-play announcements of each race.
This year's MMOC highlights sophomore phenom Zach Wills from Mason HS.  As a freshman, Wills finished 4th in Ohio (15:32) in cross country, then won the D1 state 3200 title in track in 9:15.  He is undefeated so far this season with a best time of 15:37 and has led his team to the top spot in the rankings. 

Mason should have a great showdown for the team title with Toledo St John's.  Led by Kevin Yarnell (season best of 15:40), #3 ranked Toledo St John's has their team at full strength and should have a great shot of upsetting the #1 ranked Comets.  Highly-ranked Reynoldsburg, Hilliard Davidson, Cincinnati LaSalle, Hilliard Darby and Green should be very close to the top of the boys race as well.

Other top individuals include another great sophomore in Travis Hawes (LaSalle), state 1600 champion Danny Neff (Vandalia Butler), Dylan Papp (Green) and freshman star Tsehaye Hiluf of Reynoldsburg. 

The girls race features the top 2 teams from the Ohio D1 state meet of 2007.  Defending champion Brecksville Broadview Heights faces a serious challenge from #1 ranked and defending champ Rocky River Magnificat.  Ohio powers Cincinnati Colerain, Akron St Vincent St Mary, Mason, Brunswick and Cincinnati St Ursula, along with Clarkston (MI) and Hilliard Davidson, should be major factors in the team race. 

Magnificat won this meet last year and is running very well.  Mags is led by junior Madeline Chambers.  She should be pushed in the individual race by seniors Tori Brink (Hilliard Davidson), Austin Perry (St Ursula), and possibly Kristin Smith (Clarkston).

The records for the flat, fast, spectator-friendly 5K course are held by Emil Heineking and Bekah Smeltzer.  Heineking set the boys mark in 2006 with a 15:14.  The Chardon OH talent was the state cross country champion in Ohio that fall and since earned All America honors as a freshman at the University of Virginia in 2007.  Smeltzer, from Monroe Jefferson MI, also set her mark in 2006 with an 18:14.  She was a state champion in Michigan and currently runs for Michigan State University.  Last year's winners were Brian Himelright (from state champion Peninsula Woodridge) in 15:35 and Emily Pritt (Massillon Jackson) in 18:19.  Both Himelright and Pritt are freshmen at North Carolina State University this fall.

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