HEBRON – Having that extra week before running in the state cross country meet on Saturday had a positive impact for Tanner Delk.
The Arcanum senior said he didn’t really start tapering for the race until earlier in the week and that gave him a chance just to relax his body and legs in order to be fresh for the race.
It must have worked as Delk stayed right near the front the entire 5,000 meters and finished in fourth place with a time of 16 minutes, 43.3 seconds in the Division III boys state cross country championships at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
“Fourth place is awesome,” said Delk, who qualified in third place at the regional meet two weeks ago. “I was just hoping to make top 10 or even have a chance to make top 5 and I got fourth so I’m super happy with that. I couldn’t ask for a better spot. It was a great way to end my senior year and my career. I am really happy with it.”
Delk was competing in the race for the second straight year. In 2017, he placed 42nd overall in Division III. This year he had his mind set on reaching the podium.
“Going into the race I knew I had a good chance of placing,” Delk said. “I just relaxed these last two weeks and that helped my body get fresh. Plus coming back for a second year in a row I knew what to expect and everything. I think it worked out great.
“My goal was just to stay with the Fort Loramie guys (Joseph Ballas and Jake Rethman) because I knew that would get me to where I wanted to be,” he continued. “Right when I started the race I felt great and I felt confident and I knew I could hang on near the front. At districts, I beat the Rethman kid so I knew I could do it again, but they both run really great so you never really know what is going to happen with them. My mindset was just be close with them and see what I can do and I was able to kick past Rethman right before the finish line.”
Not too terribly far behind Delk was Franklin-Monroe senior Cole Good. He ran the D-III race in 17:14.9 to place 28th overall, higher than he placed in either of his two previous appearances in the state meet. He was 54th last year and 50th as a sophomore.
“I’m pretty happy with the way I ran,” Good said. “My goal was to be higher than 50th so I am pretty happy with that. It was a fun run, but just cold. I liked the course more this year. I thought it was more competitive and a faster pace.”
Good plans to attend college at Sinclair and then Wright State to study robotics engineering, he said. That won’t leave him much time to run.
“I don’t think I will run in college. I just want to focus on school,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun in my high school career though. I really have enjoyed it.”
Delk is planning to run in college, but hasn’t decided where yet. He plans to be a business major.
“I plan to run in college, but I’m not sure where yet,” Delk said. “I have been talking to some schools, so we’ll just see what comes at me. I’m excited for it though.”
Delk and Good were the only boys from Darke County competing at the state meet. Over on the girls side, however, both Bradford and Versailles competed as teams in Division III, and Greenville sophomore Isabelle Rammel qualified for the Division II state race as an individual.
“My goal was just to get here, so I tried to enjoy the race and enjoy the whole experience which I did,” said Rammel, who placed 61st overall in a time of 20:24.4. “It’s been really fun and a lot of people came to support me and that felt really special so I really had a great time.
“I am happy with my time and where I finished,” she continued. “I didn’t really care how I did, I was just happy to be here. But next year will be different. I want to place top 20 and break the school record next year. I’m a little less than a minute off the school record now so it is a ways off, but I think I can get there. It will take a lot to get to it but I will just keep working hard and listening to my coach.
“I didn’t put any pressure on myself and no one else around me put too much pressure on me. They all were just being supportive. It was so exciting to get here. It didn’t feel real,” she added.
In the Division III girls race, Bradford totaled 299 points to finish 11th out of 20 teams. Versailles scored 370 to place 15th as a team.
“I’m happy with how they did today,” Bradford coach Rob Grillot said of his six runners. “They went out there and ran hard and ran the best race they could with this cold weather and I am pleased with how they did today.
“We were sitting somewhere like 13th or 14th coming in so as far as I’m concerned we placed up and they ran a great race today,” he continued. “The girls are a little hard on themselves sometimes but that is because they have such a great work ethic and they just give it all they got. They have high expectations, but I hope by the end of the day they realize what they accomplished wasn’t easy. They should be proud of themselves.”
Senior Karmen Knepp was the lead runner for Bradford placing 28th overall in a time of 20:13.2. She was followed by Skipp Miller (21:00.2) in 64th place, Austy Miller (21:23.7) in 81st place, Olivia Daugherty (22:110.1) in 120th place, Mercedes Smith (23:17.8) in 153rd place and Alexis Barhorst (24:47.5) in 172nd place.
“I wouldn’t say it was how I wanted to end this season or my high school career, but I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else except for my team. That’s who I had here with me today and I am extremely thankful for that,” Knepp said referring to the fact that the extra week provided the opportunity to run for several of her teammates who wouldn’t have been able to compete had the meet been held as scheduled last weekend. “It was definitely an awesome feeling to bring our team here to state for the first time. I am so happy to have had them with me today. We have all worked so hard to get here and I am definitely proud of them and proud to have them as teammates.”
The Railroaders, who qualified as the third-place team at the regional meet two weeks ago, hope to make this an annual event on their schedule.
“Our goal is to make this a regular thing,” Grillot said. “We are losing one senior – Karmen – and she is a great runner, but we have some young ladies coming up and I’ll get all these girls back next year too. They are a group of hard working ladies and it is our goal to come back next year and beyond.”
That is something the Versailles girls have been doing for a while. The Tigers competed as a team in Saturday’s state meet for the 17th time overall. It was their second straight and 15th time since 2000.
“We were 15th and we’ll take it,” Versailles coach Mark Pleiman said. “We finished about where we were placed coming in, so we can’t be disappointed being right around where we were supposed to be. It was a good day.”
The Tigers top placer was freshman Madelyn Holzapfel. She was 84th in a time of 21:29.1. She was followed by sophomore Maria Mangen (21:50.5) in 105th place, senior Liz Watren (22:04.2) in 112th place, senior Kara Spitzer (22:14.4) in 123rd place, sophomore Lauren Menke (22:41.3) in 140th place, freshman Delaney Barga (23:36.1) in 158th place and junior Emma Peters (23:47.5) in 160th place.
“The conditions weren’t the best and the weather wasn’t as nice, but I am super happy with how my team did,” Holzapfel said. “We stayed strong and we ran together. I am really thankful for my coaches and our senior leader Liz Watren. They all pushed me throughout the season and I am really happy with how it ended.”
“Our team is very much a pack running team,” Pleiman said. “We don’t have the frontrunner so a big meet like this makes it difficult for us. A lot of points go off the board before our first runner comes in, but overall it was a fun experience. The girls love it and I love coming here every year.
“As a freshman coming in Madelyn did great,” he continued. “It is a lot of fun because she is very coachable. She asks a lot of questions and I love that as a coach. You talk them through and coach them up a little bit. She is just a tremendous young lady. A great runner and a great athlete.”
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.