Even though some of the faces have changed, once again the Waverly Tigers and the Northwest Mohawks have shown that they are going to be battling to be the top cross country team in the Southern Ohio Conference.

On Saturday, the top spot belonged to the Waverly Tigers as they secured the first place trophy in their annual Tiger Invitational at Bristol Park. Waverly won the high school boys portion of the meet by finishing with 46 points, beating the Mohawks (53) by seven.

In all, eight teams placed. Following the winning Tigers and runner-up Mohawks were the teams from Vinton County (third, 74), Whiteoak (fourth, 120), Minford (fifth, 126), Wheelersburg (sixth, 132), Ripley (seventh, 167) and West Union (eighth, 194). Western, Piketon and Eastern (see separate story for Eastern’s results) had individual runners competing.

Individually, Northwest’s Landen Smith took the win in the 5K race, crossing the finish line alone in a time of 16:34. Next, Minford senior Dutch Byrd finished as the runner-up. Then it was Waverly sophomore Mitch Green in third (17:03) with the next four Tigers close behind him. Jack Monroe recorded ninth (18:38), followed by A.J. Sibole (11th, 19:22), Ty Reisinger (13th, 19:36) and Aidan Kelly (14th, 19:46) to complete the top five for the Tigers. Alex Stoller (52nd, 23:14) and Frankie Hurst (65th, 27:52) completed the results for Waverly.

Piketon and Western each had three runners competing. Piketon was led by junior Wyatt Fout, who finished 44th overall in 22:34. Next, twins Josh (58th, 24:54) and Gary (68th, 30:10) Richmond completed the race. For the Indians, freshman Andrew Beckett led the way, finishing 57th in 24:45. He was followed by junior Trey Satterfield (59th, 26:04) and freshman Luke Smith (62nd, 27:27).

In the high school girls competition, the hosting Lady Tigers brought home fifth place overall (117), followed by the Piketon Lady Redstreaks in sixth place (155). Vinton County took the team title with 36 points, followed by Wheelersburg in second (88), West Union in third (98) and Northwest in fourth (103). Behind Waverly and Piketon were Ripley (163), North Adams (169) and Whiteoak (188).

The overall race winner was North Adams junior Myla Tool, who finished in 20:03. Vinton County senior Olivia Mayers was the runner-up (20:44), followed by Eastern’s Abby Cochenour (third, 21:14).

Leading Waverly was junior Olivia Cisco, who secured sixth place in 22:03. Teammate Julia Clark took 18th (24:28). The next four Lady Tigers included Jenna Thompson (35th, 27:46) and Hannah Swinning (36th, 27:52) with back-to-back finishes, along with Olivia Russell (41st, 29:36) and Hannah Remy (49th, 31:55).

For the Lady Redstreaks, sophomore Kenzie Mays led the charge, finishing 15th in 23:59. Addi Johnson was next, taking 30th (26:45). Kalyn Mays (38th, 28:40), Taylor Wagner (46th, 30:16) and Shelby Carrico (50th, 32:28) completed the top five, followed closely by sisters Gracie (55th, 37:20) and Izzy (57th, 37:44) Hablitzel.

In the junior high girls competition, Waverly was the only Pike County team to produce a team score. The Lady Tigers finished third overall with 64 points, following the winning North Adams Lady Dragons (30) and the runner-up Wheelersburg Lady Pirates (38). West Union’s Sadie Armstrong was the individual race winner (13:59), followed by runner-up McKenna Shelton (14:06).

The Lady Tigers were led by Quinn Shaffer (10th, 14:57) and Mallory Robert (11th, 15:03) with back-to-back finishes. Ava Robertson (28th, 19:01), Carly Dixon (32nd, 21:16) and Hadlee Carsey (36th, 26:44) completed the results.

Individually for Piketon, Jlynn Risner was 23rd in 17:31.

In the junior high boys competition, Wheelersburg claimed the team title with 64 points, closely followed by Eastern (76). Vinton County was third (84), followed by Ripley (fourth, 95), North Adams (fifth, 114), Whiteoak (sixth, 117), Piketon (seventh, 148), and Waverly (eighth, 198). Eastern’s Aiden Werner won the race in 11:12, beating the runner-up, Vinton County’s Samuel Boyd, by five seconds (11:17).

For Waverly, Lane Bear led the charge, taking eighth overall in 12:34. Next was Zarian Carter (51st, 16:54), Jeremiah Miller (56th, 17:47), Jaret Jordan (57th, 17:49), Max Monroe (59th, 17:59), and Eli Hobbs (67th, 20:22).

For Piketon, Leighton Kelley was the first runner across the line, taking 16th in 13:21. He was followed by Grayson Roberts (28th, 14:31), Nathaniel Shrum (33rd, 14:52), Connor McGlone (38th, 15:21), Hayden Klinker (52nd, 16:56), Mason Roberts (54th, 17:14) and Bo Henry (70th, 21:05).

The Tiger Invitational was a meet that nearly didn’t happen this year, as COVID-19 concerns had teams unsure if there would even be a cross country season until it was announced in mid-August. The late decision left many teams scrambling to find meets, due to the number of entrants being restricted and some being canceled all together. Waverly Head Coach Country Coach Linda McAllister decided to have the meet as a late addition to the schedule. Initially, it was expected to be a small meet, but other teams joined, grateful for the opportunity to run locally.

Email at jbillings@newswatchman.com; follow on Twitter @ Julie_Billings

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