CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Maplewood High School is no stranger to accolades after many trips to cross country and track state meets over the years.
“I think there’s one spot left in here and we’ve been looking at this since we were in junior high to fill that last spot and that’s what we’re shooting for this weekend,” senior Alex Donaldson said.
The boys team, ranked second in the state, is on a torrid pace after dominating their way to a regional championship by nearly 50 team points.
“I enjoy this group and as a senior I want to see what I can do to stay healthy,” senior Cole Stewart said. “It encourages me that they that they are running and helps me push through so I can run well for them to.”
Then after a second place finish on the girls side, both Rockets teams will make the trip to Columbus this year.
“Well, I haven’t had this opportunity since my freshman year and I feel like we almost took that for granted. And now coming on my senior year, my last year of cross country, I’m very excited to head down to state again,” Ella Nevinsky said.
Of course, with 5-time state champion runner Caleigh Richards , coming off her seventh 1st place finish in eight races, but this year will feel a little different for Caleigh.
“That was my goal for this year, to have all of us down there, because I know the boys have had a lot of success in the past, but it’s cool to get to like see our girls program succeeding, too, and build that up,” Richards said. “I think it really inspires some of the younger girls and may be considering whether they want to run or not but like seeing this, I think it’ll really encourage them.”
That was a theme for both Rockets teams all season, led on the boys side by Donaldson’s four first-place finishes and 5K personal best of 15:49.
“This year, I was kind of focused on just the team doing well, not really myself. I just wanted the team to succeed because I know what it feels like to be first or to win or stand on a podium but I wanted them to experience that feeling that’s what I’ve been focused on all year,” Donaldson said.
Now with state just days away, they’re ready to show Ohio what these Maplewood programs are all about.
“It’s really coming from a small community and a small school, the support from everyone is overwhelming considering we get to go to state and it’s just it’s just a really good opportunity for us.” Nevinsky said.
OHSAA Division III State Meet will begin Saturday, Nov. 4, in Columbus with the Division III girls race starting at 10 a.m. and the boys racing right after at 10:45 a.m.