SALEM - The United boys cross country team started out front Tuesday and stayed there.
The Eagles had four of the top five finishers at Waterworth Memorial Park to run away with their second straight Columbiana County championship.
"I tell them to start the race out in front so they know where they're at," United coach Ken Beaumariage said. "They've done it all year."
The East Liverpool boys’ cross country poses with its trophy after finishing as runner-up in the 2012 Columbiana County Cross Country Meet held Tuesday in?Salem. (Photo courtesy Pottersportsonline.com)
United wrapped up the title with 24 points to outdistance runner-up East Liverpool, which had 52.
"Today, everyone did what they were suppposed to do," United senior Nick Althouse said. "When you get four of of the top five, it's pretty good."
East Liverpool senior Nate Boyer won the race for the second straight year, but it was all Eagles after that.
Senior Cole Weikart was second, junior James Kataro was third, sophomore Vincent Zehentbauer was fourth and sophomore Joseph Kataro was fifth. Althouse rounded out the scoring by placing 12th.
"My time wasn't what I was looking for, but we had four of the top five," Weikart said.
The Eagles have claimed consecutive county titles after not winning one before.
"It shows we're accomplishing things," Weikart said. "We've got a couple of kids who are pretty good."
"It was a big surprise last year," Althouse said. "It was my first year of cross country. Winning this year is a big step."
As United's fifth runner, Althouse knows he could decide the team's fate in big meets.
"I heard my coach yelling to get up there," Althouse said. "Then I found out we had four of the top five, so the pressure was off. It was a good day."
It wasn't even close on Tuesday.
"The kids are excited about it," Beaumariage said. "They kids will love the trophy."
The Eagles will compete in the Inter-Tri County League Meet in McDonald on Tuesday as they get ready for a tournament run.
"I'd like to see the boys make it to regionals," Beaumariage said.
"Everybody has cut a minute and a half off their times this year," Althouse said. "We want to get to regionals really, really bad."
Boyer finished 54 seconds ahead of the field, completing the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 14.77 seconds.
"It's another step forward in my career," Boyer said. "It's a little sad - my last county meet."
He thought the Potters had a chance of catching United until recently.
"We were definitely a contender, but we're down to six guys," Boyer said. "We lost a lot of guys to injury and didn't get a lot of guys to come out this year."
Boyer looked strong after not running at the Suburban League Championship last Tuesday after coach Scott Thornberry pulled the Potters out due the weather.
"Actually, I think that was the best move of the season," Boyer said. "We had a big meet at Malone and we needed the rest."
Now Boyer is positioning himself to make a run at another state berth.
"I'm trying for the school record," he said.