But it took just a simple reality to bring a renewed energy toward what can lie ahead on Saturday in the Division III races at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
“Once we sat down with the kids and they realized it doesn’t put us in a different position than anyone else, everyone was OK with it and ready to compete,” New London coach Keith Landis said.
Both the boys and girls teams will run for the Wildcats on Saturday. The boys enter the 11 a.m. race ranked No. 10 in the state coaches poll, while the girls are 16th entering the 1:30 p.m. race.
“The kids have looked great this week,” Landis said. “Everyone looks strong and fresh, and by accident we got a benefit here. It’s the same for everyone, but another week of rest is another week of rest. A lot of people like to pretend you will get everyone going on one day and that’s when your peak is.
“But your peak doesn’t last one day in my opinion,” he added. “I think it’s a window, and we’re still in that window.”
A balanced boys team with no seniors will be led by Dominic Albaugh, Carson Coey, Curtis Joppeck, Tyler Twining, Mitchell Joppeck, Cole Kropka and Caleb Good. New London won the regional championship at Tiffin two weeks ago with strong depth that has carried the team all year.
The ‘Cats almost never have a runner win a race, but at Tiffin they placed from 19th-to-65th among its seven runners to win the title by 14 points over Van Wert Lincolnview.
“The guys run as a pack everywhere they go,” Landis said. “It’s hard to ever tell the difference between a slow, easy or hard day. That pack is tight. There are really eight guys in it as Braeden Geist is my alternate and only a few seconds slower than my slowest guy.”
The girls team is paced by seniors Gabrielle Osterland and Dana Gustely, along with juniors Kalyn Williams and Savannah Shaver, sophomores Abigail Good and freshman Grace Crawshaw.
“The girls don’t always race like that pack mentality with the boys, but we’re very excited to get down there,” Landis said. “We have those two seniors on girls side who have really worked and integral part of getting us down there. We’re going to enjoy that.
“The girls have overcome all kinds of challenges this year,” he added. “I don’t know that we had full top seven in a race until early October. It’s an exciting time of the year and we’re excited to get down there and see how well we can compete. It will be fun.”
Edison prepped for state
MILAN — Led by juniors Daniel Lambert and Tyler Coon, the Edison’s boys cross country team, ranked 14th in Division II, is heading into the week-delayed state meet coming out of the fastest regional meet.
Lexington’s Kyle Johnston led a group of four runners in the Tiffin regional to sub-16 minute times, with Lambert just on the outside of the group at fifth place in 16 minutes, 17.46 seconds.
Johnston finished in 15:32.89, while William Wilke led the Pickerington regional in 16:14.7.
The Troy regional was led by Ben Bayless in 16:17.72, while the top runner in the Youngstown regional, Alex Phillips of Akron St. Vincent St. Mary, ran a 16:31.22.
Coon was just five seconds behind Lambert, coming in eighth at 16:32.09, while senior Jonathon Hrivnak was 17:00.62, which placed him 16th.
Based off the regional times, Lambert enters Saturday with the sixth-best time, while Coon is 17th and Hrvinak is 64th.
The boys were third as a team at both regionals and districts, after Lambert and Coon finished 1-2 at the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division championships to claim the team title.
At SBCs, Lambert finished in 16:13.09 to Coon’s 16:20.03.