HEBRON – Versailles’ Noah Pleiman and Joe Spitzer both finished their seasons with personal-best times at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II boys state cross country meet.
Spitzer finished the state championship race at National Trail Raceway in Hebron in ninth place with a time of 15:53.2, and Pleiman finished 51st in 16:41.5.
“That was a hard race,” Spitzer said. “I PRed, though, so I’m happy.”
Spitzer dropped more than seven seconds from his personal-best time and ran a sub-16 minute 5K for the first time in his life.
“It’s been my goal this whole year to get into the 15s,” the Versailles junior said. “I’m real happy.”
Pleiman dropped more than 15 seconds from his previous-best time, which he set just one week earlier.
“That’s a really huge improvement there,” the Versailles senior said. “Just really blessed to be able to run here today. It was gorgeous weather, just absolute ideal conditions. Just a very good last race.”
Through one mile Spitzer was in eighth place with a time of 4:56.4 while Pleiman was 30th in 5:02.7. At the two mile mark Spitzer was 11th in a time of 10:10.5, and Pleiman was 47th with a time of 10:34.3.
“Went out that first mile fairly hard because I knew it’s state – everybody’s fast – so if I go out at my normal pace I’m going to be really far back, have to make my way up; that would be really hard,” Pleiman said. “The second mile was just difficult. Really difficult. A lot of people were passing me then, and I just kept going at it. That third mile I knew I had to give it all that I had because it was the last mile of my entire high school running career for cross country.”
By finishing in the top 16 Spitzer earned a spot on the state meet podium.
“Last year I was 37th,” he said. “I never would have imagined myself on the podium this year. It’s a really big improvement.”
Having concluded a great junior season, Spitzer already is excited about what he could accomplish next year as a senior.
“Hopefully next year I’ll be able to compete for a top five, maybe even the title,” he said.
Pleiman was glad to finish his high school cross country career at the state meet.
“It was just an experience,” he said. “Not everybody gets to do that. It’s really great that for my last race I was able to say I ran at state. Just a huge blessing. The fans … it’s great. I had a lot of people come out to support me today.”
Both Pleiman and Spitzer thanked their families and coaches and also said they relied on their faith.
“I want to give all the glory to my savior Jesus Christ,” Spitzer said. “He’s the one who gave me all this talent. All the credit for this really belongs to Him.”
Pleiman said without his faith he couldn’t have made it through the knee injuries that plagued him the past two years.
“That was all God right there,” he said. “That was a huge PR for me. Just goes to show with my knees and everything from last year, people have no idea what God has in store for them if they just keep trying.”
Woodridge won the Division II boys state championship. Buckeye Valley junior Zach Kreft won the Division II boys race with a time of 15:16.4.
For complete results from the OHSAA state cross country meet, visit the OHSAA website at ohsaa.org.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.