Just like they did all season, the two Trumbull County cross country powers, coached by brothers, battled it out.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
COLUMBUS -- The best moment of the boys Division III state cross country championship did not come when McDonald High won its second championship in three years.
Nor did it come when the Blue Devils stepped up on the podium to receive their medals.
The best moment came when runner-up Maplewood joined McDonald on the podium, showing the unity that has developed between the state's top two teams over the past year.
"We've been so blessed," said McDonald coach Chris Rupe. "I don't know how else to describe it."
Rupe was also exhausted. The two teams had battled all season and the state showdown was as good as advertised.
McDonald edged Maplewood 90-95 Saturday at Scioto Downs in Columbus.
"There is just this drained feeling," said Rupe. "It's been mentally exhausting to face Maplewood all year and it feels great. We're glad to be done."
Isenberg leader: McDonald senior Matt Isenberg finished 20th overall with a time of 16:35 to lead the Blue Devils, followed by Jason Corman (23rd place, 16:39), Joe Kunkel (37th, 16:53), Kevin Corman (49th, 17:05) and Kevin Stonestreet (50th, 17:05).
Before the race, McDonald dyed their hair red to bring the team together, Isenberg said.
"We wanted to do something and bleaching hair is overrated," said Isenberg. "Having Maplewood there all year has really brought out the best in all of us and I can't say how much we appreciate each other. I think we have the best coaches in the state."
Maplewood coach Ted Rupe -- Chris' brother -- had kind words about McDonald's performance.
"McDonald stepped it up a little higher," he said. "We ran well overall, but it was probably not our best race. But it's nice that the two trophies are coming back to Trumbull County."
Maplewood, who won the regional and finished second to McDonald at the district, finished runner-up for the third time since 1990. They won the state title in 1998.
All-Ohio honors: Dave Pykare (5th place, 16:13) and Paul Moser (12th, 16:23) and John Palmer (16th, 16:33) each earned All-Ohio honors for Maplewood, followed by Craig Rupe (66th, 17:18) and Derek Armstrong (69th, 17:21).
Runners in the top-25 earn All-Ohio status and runners in the top-15 earn their way on the podium.
"My goal was to come in and finish in the top five, so I don't have anything to complain about," said Pykare. "The Lord has blessed us this season and we're all brothers here."
Moser, who finished 125th at state last year, ran a personal record (PR) on Saturday.
"The race is so quick you don't have time to build a strategy," Moser said. "I just gave it my all."
Mealey ninth: Springfield senior David Mealey finished ninth with a personal-record time of 16:19. He was 22 seconds faster than his 41st-place finish at state last year.
"All the hard work that I put in during the season and the summer was worth it," Mealey said. "I knew [top 10] was in reach all summer. It feels really good."
Stryker sophomore Braden Martinez won the overall title in Div. III with a time of 15:56. Lisbon's Todd McDevitt was 47th with a time of 17:01.
Taylor sets mark: In Div. II, Mooney's Joe Taylor broke Matt Finnerty's school record of 16:17, running 16:12 to finish 12th. Taylor finished 20th in the state last season.
"I ran about as good as can be expected," said Taylor. "I knew a bunch of kids would come out too quick and I just tried to move up. The people who have been here before definitely have an advantage because you know where to go and where to be careful."
Champion senior Ryan Petrick had not been here before. But Petrick paced himself off Taylor and ran the best race of his career to finish 24th with a time of 16:24.
"I started off real fast," said Petrick, who ran his first mile in 4:55. "I just tried to stick with Joe as long as I could. As soon as I heard the crowd during the last part, I had such an adrenaline rush."
Boardman regional champion Anthony Mion of St. Vincent-St. Mary took first with a time of 15:40. Eaton won the team race with 126 points.
Albani snaps mark: In Div. I, Boardman senior Tom Albani also set a school record, running 15:59 to take 23rd. Joel Fox had the previous record of 16:08, set in 1991. Albani also earned academic All-Ohio for having a grade point average over 3.5.
"I ran the whole race close to my threshold," Albani said. "You don't have the big lapses so you have to tell yourself to get through it."
Allen Bader of Cincinnati LaSalle took first with a time of 15:07. Hudson was first with 61 points.