Borgia and Pacific’s boys runners are all moving on to the state meet.
The Knights qualified by running first at Saturday’s Class 3 District 2 meet at the Linn Athletic Complex. Borgia posted the top score of 30. Pacific had the top individual runner, Will Green, with a time of 17:26.24. The Indians finished second with 59 points. Both teams qualify in entirety for the state championship meet next Saturday.
Owensville, which had topped Pacific in the Four Rivers Conference meet on its home course the week before, finished third with 89 points. The rest of the field consisted of Lutheran South (4th, 140), Affton (5th, 146), St. Clair (6th, 154), Union (7th, 180), Bishop DuBourg (8th, 225), Cuba (9th, 240), St. James (10th, 243) Salem (11th, 285) and Sullivan (12th, 318).
Following Pacific’s Green, Borgia had the next three runners, Scott Bonastia (17:49.94), Grant Straatmann (17:51.94) and Drew Snider (17:52.58), cross in second, third and fourth.
The rest of the top 15, all of whom advance to the state meet, were as follows: George Blanco (5th, Bishop DuBourg, 17:52.89), Jacob Giedinghagen (6th, Owensville, 17:53.03), Carter Starnes (7th, Lutheran South, 18:01.35), Saxon Hagemann (8th, Pacific, 18:01.59), Anthony Willenbrink (9th, Borgia, 18:02.46), Cody Conway (10th, Pacific, 18:02.71), Tyler Stark (11th, St. Clair, 18:04.77), Ben Juengling (12th, Borgia, 18:05.05), Isaiah Minner (13th, Affton, 18:06.15), Colin Brown (14th, St. Clair, 18:06.67) and Hunter Hickerson (15th, Lutheran South, 18:07.60).
Even had the Knights not finished in the top two, the team would have qualified five runners for state after finishing in the top 15.
The district victory takes the team back to the state championship where it finished eighth a season ago.
“We knew going in that both Owensville and Pacific would be tough,” Borgia Head Coach Mitch Figas said. “Based on previous results we thought we could get our top five close to their top two or three runners. We were able to do that and that made all the difference. Scott Bonastia did a great job getting close to the front like he usually does. The big surprise was that Grant Straatmann and Drew Snider went right with him and then Tony Willenbrink and Ben Juengling right there in the top 10 from the start.”
Figas said Borgia’s boys ran at a level they had only shown once this season, winning the Archdiocesan Athletic Association meet earlier in the month.
“Throughout the season we have seen in training that our top five can really all run well, we just had only raced great as a team that one time at the AAA conference meet,” Figas said. “So far this season we have seen that while other teams can get a couple of athletes in the 16s we are not quite there yet. However our No. 4 and 5 finishers can sometimes finish ahead of other team’s third finisher which helps us a lot.”
Other Borgia runners included Joshua Kang (37th, 19:41.87) and Nicholas Weber (43rd, 20:01.04).
For Pacific, Green returns to the state meet for the second time. He ran 74th there in 2016.
“Will ran an incredible race and looked relaxed the whole time,” Head Coach Justin Perriguey said. “I think his times will drop noticeably at Oak Hill next weekend. Saxon Hagemann ran a consistent race, running almost perfectly even for the last two miles. It was a testament to his fitness. Cody Conway ran awesome. He has worked extremely hard all summer and through the season and came really close to getting under 18:00 setting a new personal best at the meet.”
Along with the three runners in the top 15 for the Indians, Conner Robinson ran 17th at 18:09.60, his best mark of the season. Robinson, like Green, has previous state meet experience after running 99th there last season. They were the only two to qualify last year.
The Indians clinched the trip to state for the whole team this year with Sam Dean placing 23rd at 18:48.28. The team’s sixth and seventh runners, Sam Skaggs (18:58.46) and Noah Benzabeh (19:00.40) crossed the finish line right behind him in 24th and 25th.
“Our Nos. 5-7 runners, Sam Dean, Sam Skaggs and Noah Benzabeh really pushed each other in the later portions of the race, changing positions a few times. It is incredible to have this level of depth. We also owe a lot to our guys that did not get to race but did so in the alternates/jv race. Brayden (Van Meter), Jakob (Balleydier) and Jeremiah (Murray) really pushed the guys the last couple weeks.”
Multiple runners will represent the Bulldogs at the state meet for the second year in a row. Stark qualifies for the second time. He ran 77th at state last season.
“Eighteen seconds separated 2-15,” Head Coach Ben Martin said of the district meet. “It was a tough race. Tyler made it, making him a two-time qualifier. I feel he could have went faster.”
For Brown, it will be his first trip to state. Three seconds separated him from Owensville’s Graham Dunlap, who finished 16th and narrowly missed the cut to qualify.
“I was ecstatic about Colin Brown making it,” Martin said. “It was close, and it was tough, but he never gave up. Rounding the turn with 400 meters to go, he was in 16th. I yelled, he responded, and passed two people. Colin has worked so hard every day for four years. He earned this. It was one the happiest moments I’ve had in my 10 years of coaching to watch him become a state qualifier because I know how much he put into it. Colin is an example of our team motto — ‘Never Quit Ever.’ Last year, he fought the ankle injury. This year he had a shin and back injury. He never let up at practice. He was our team captain for a reason. Colin has shown my whole team that hard work and running in the offseason pays off. I am incredibly proud of what he has accomplished; it was earned, not given.”
Ryan Herman was the third runner for St. Clair, placing 27th at 19:02.85. The team’s usual No. 3 all season, Pepper Stark, did not run. Neither did the team’s regular No. 5, Bailey Gardner.
Rounding out the field for the Bulldogs were Adam Pipes (49th, 20:21.39), Austin Duff (53rd, 20:39.32), Noah Adams (63rd, 21:50.58) and Austin Harger (69th, 22:12.33).
Union did not have any state qualifiers. Mason Bailey was the team’s top finisher in 22nd at 18:44.02.
Dominick Beine (30th, 19:09.61), Matt Reidel (31st, 19:10.52), Kadin Renn (42nd, 20:00.84) and Gavin Pickard (55th, 21:05.33) were the other scoring runners for the Wildcats.
Hayden Monroe (56th, 21:13.91) and Seth Swoboda (74th, 23:01.53) were the final Union runners.