Quaker boys on to state meet

BOARDMAN — The cheers erupted when the Division II boys regional cross country results were posted.

“I was pretty nervous because we knew it was going to be close,” junior Hunter Christopher said.

The Salem boys earned their first state berth in 13 years after a fifth-place finish at the muddy Boardman regional on Saturday.

“Everyone is so excited because we worked so hard,” Christopher said. “We’ve all talked about it a lot. It’s a lot harder to do. Everyone of us deserves it.”

The top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to the state meet next Saturday at National Trail Raceway near Hebron. A state berth is never taken for granted.

“We knew the boys would have a little better shot, but I know not to get ahead of myself,” Salem coach Rob Motz said.

The Quakers were fifth out of 19 teams with 212 points.

Second-ranked Woodridge won with 55 points, fourth-ranked Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary was second with 63 and third-ranked Bay Village Bay was third with 92.

“Last year was really a milestone, qualifying for state,” said Christopher, who is making his second trip to the state meet. “This year we knew the team had a chance.”

Christopher was 11th out of 158 runners, finishing the 3.1-mile course at Boardman High School in 17 minutes, 17 seconds.

“We send Hunter out there and expect single-digits from him and he always delivers. He’s so consistent, in workouts and training. He’s reliable. There’s something to predictability.”

“The goal is to get on the podium,” Christopher said. “The place today didn’t do anything to justify that.”

He’s the only one to know what to expect at the state meet.

Backing Christopher were senior Trey Double in 30th, sophomore Grant Menough 45th, sophomore Jacob McLachlan 83rd and senior Owen Kirkland 101st. Freshman Davin Koskinen was 133rd and junior Cameron Christopher 158th.

“Cam got injured during the race,” Motz said. “He hurt his hip about a mile and a half into the race and fought through it.

“Trey, Grant, Jacob and Owen picked it up and that’s why we’re going to state.”

The Quakers have higher hopes for next weekend.

“I know we got fifth here, but I think we can go down there and get on the podium,” Motz said. “I think a flat course sets up good for us.”

“We’re going to keep practicing like usual and doing all the right things,” Christopher said.”

The day ended with Salem girls coming up short of a state bid.

Sophomore Carly Hall, a state qualifier last season, missed by one spot, finishing 25th out of 163 Division II girls runners.

The Salem girls were out of the running, placing 11th with 269 points.

“Bittersweet,” Motz said. “We’re really happy for the guys. We thought the girls had a shot of getting out, too. We knew it would be on the outside looking in, but we had a chance. It’s tough.”

It didn’t put a damper on the efforts of the Salem boys.

“It’s been a long times since the boys have been to state,” Christopher said. “It feels good.”

Meet notes

¯ Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Colin Scahill finished two spots behind Hunter Christopher in 13th place.

He is the son of Salem state track champion Theresa Kaine.

¯ ¯ The son of former Salem coach Mike Almond, who led the Quaker boys to the 2004 Division II state title, ran in the Division I race.

Marlington freshman Noah Graham passed out midway through the race and was taken to the hospital.

¯ Times were slow due to the muddy conditions, which got worse with each of the six races.

“You can’t look at times today,” Hunter Christopher said.