PATASKALA — For the Mount Vernon girls cross country team, Saturday was a day to celebrate history. For the boys, it was a learning experience with a fun reward for one runner’s hard work.
The District Tournament at Watkins Memorial in Pataskala saw the girls finish second as a team, something they had never done before in school history.
“I’m very proud of these girls. It was a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold. We’ve never finished district runners-up before,” Mount Vernon girls cross country coach Pat Gray said.
As a team, the girls finished at 1:40:44.09 –– well above the top team from Dublin Coffman –– but more than two minutes better than the host team from Watkins.
Sarah Fowler led the way for the Jackets with a time of 19:21.73, good for seventh. Celia Leonard finished six-and-a-half seconds behind, in ninth place.
Lindsey Studebaker was 14th overall, with a time of 20:14.57, while Zoe Leonard finished 23rd -- sprinting at the finish to get ahead of a girl from Westerville Central by two-tenths of a second.
“I had to get ahead of that girl. I did the best that I could do. Our team did very well,” Leonard said.
“We always enjoy running at Watkins, because we get to run in the woods,” Studebaker said.
“We have some time now to back off in practice, get our legs, get ready for regionals,” Studebaker added.
The Mount Vernon girls will run the Regional Tournament this Saturday at Pickerington North High School. They will be joined by Coffman, who dominated the race with runners who placed first, fourth, fifth, sixth, 10th and 12th.
Also advancing were teams from Watkins Memorial and Thomas Worthington. Thomas Worthington actually tied for fourth with Olentangy, but advanced because their fifth-place team runner finished ahead of Olentangy’s fifth-place runner.
The tournament yielded mixed results for the Yellow Jackets on Saturday. The boys fell short as a team, finishing 15th. But the team did yield one positive result: Jarod Vance finished 13th with a personal best 16:31.67, good enough to advance to Regionals as an individual runner.
“It was all the hard work I did all summer. The course is really hard, because it’s really tight and compact. But I did what I had to. I ran to the side to get around (other runners), ran around trees, anything to keep my pace,” Vance said.
Calvin Lortie was the second finisher for Mount Vernon, with a time of 17:35.53.
“It wasn’t my best time. The course can be really dusty. When you get trapped behind some guys, it’s not easy to run this course,” Lortie said.
Of course, no one really blamed the course, because everyone runs the same one. But the unusual qualities of the course at Watkins led to some unfortunate circumstances for some runners.
“I did a faceplant,” junior Ben Nielson said. “I tripped on a kid on the dirt. The last time I ran here, I ran into a tree.”
“It’s hard because of all the dust kicked up on this course. It gets in your eyes,” Lortie said.