OBETZ, Ohio —A new benchmark for a storied program.
Brayden O’Brien didn’t set a new personal record, but the junior did become Eastern High School’s first-ever top-10 male finisher at the state level on Saturday during the 2021 OHSAA cross country championships held at Fortress Obetz.
O’Brien — one of three Eagles competing at the state meet for the first time — ended the day with a 10th place effort of 16:06.1 in the Division III boys race, missing ninth by just three-tenths of a second.
O’Brien surpassed the previous high mark of 14th set by Michael Owen during the 2006 Division III meet held at Scioto Downs.
An All-Ohio honoree because of his top-20 finish, O’Brien spoke about his first time at state … and the success that came with his podium finish.
“I was a little overwhelmed at the start, given the number of fans and it being my first state final in cross country. The nerves got to me a little bit, for sure,” O’Brien said. “Overall, I thought I ran a pretty good race. I went out a little too fast, maybe, because I was top-5 after a mile and top-6 after two miles, but I just couldn’t keep that pace at the end.
“Still, it’s been an amazing week. I wanted to finish on the podium and I had a couple of teammates here with me today that ran great races. And I think all three of us are leaving here with more motivation to be back here again next year. It’s a good way to end the season.”
EHS freshman Connor Nolan posted a very respectable time of 16:58.8 in the D-3 boys meet, which earned him 59th place overall.
Lima Perry senior Braden Yingst won the iindividual championship in Division III with a time of 15:29.4. Hayden Schmidt of Anna was the runner-up out of 183 competitiors with a mark of 15:44.7.
East Canton won the D-3 boys title with a final score of 93. Mount Gilead (108) and Fort Loramie (109) rounded out the top three team spots.
Eastern junior Erica Durst was the lone Lady Eagle to compete in the Division III girls race, finishing 123rd overall with a time of 21:16.7.
Maplewood sophomore Caleigh Richards won the D-3 girls race with a time of 18:16.2. Megan Adams of West Liberty-Salem was second out of 191 entrants with a mark of 18:22.0
The final Ohio Valley Publishing area competitor at the state meet this weekend was River Valley senior Lauren Twyman.
Twyman — in her third straight Division II meet — finished her career with a 61st place finish of 19:50.6. Twyman was 21st last year with a time of 19:11 and also placed 82nd overall as a sophomore.
Oakwood took the top two spots as senior Grace Hartman won the Division II girls race with a time of 17:31.6. Teammate Bella Butler was second out of 181 entrants with a mark of 18:02.6.
Minerva won the D-2 girls title with 136 points. Granville was the overall runner-up with 139 points.
Jack Agnew of Carroll won the Division II boys race with a time of 15:31.3. Noah Graham of Marlington was the overall runner-up with a mark of 15:33.8.
Marlington won the D-2 boys title with 77 points and Woodridge was second with 153 points.
Mason won the Division I boys championship, while Little Miami senior William Zegarski claimed the D-1 individual crown with a time of 14:39.9.
Perrysburg won the Division I girls title, while Gahanna Lincoln senior Alyssa Shope claimed the D-1 individual championship with a time of 17:32.1.
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.