JOHN KOVACH | Colleges Grove City still reigns in cross country
GROVE CITY, Pa. -- How do you build a league championship dynasty in cross country?
Just add a few good people to your team every year.
That's Josh Bolinger's explanation of how Grove City College has been able to win 12 straight Presidents Athletic Conference championships, including the last four titles with him on the team.
"I guess every year we get one or two guys come in as freshmen that contribute," said Bolinger, a senior from Lakeview High.
"So by the time they are seniors, we have other guys. It's a matter of bringing a couple of top runners every year."
Bolinger won the 8,000-meter PAC race as a freshman in 1998 to lead Grove City to its ninth straight team championship.
12th in row: Recently, he was runner-up behind junior teammate Ryan Mitchell, as the Wolverines won their 12th consecutive PAC championship while producing the top six runners for a perfect team score of 15, at Shamrock Golf Course in Slippery Rock.
"The first meet this year, I beat him [Mitchell], but every meet since then he has beaten me by 20 or 30 seconds each time," said Bolinger. "He is a good runner."
Mitchell won in 28:20 to capture the Most Valuable Performer award, while Bolinger finished in 28:50. He was followed by freshman Dan Adams (29:03), junior Brad Wray (29:08) and sophomore Jacob Anderson (29:14).
All-PAC picks: Mitchell, Bolinger, Adams, Wray and Anderson all made the All-PAC first team, while sophomore Steve Brown, who placed sixth in 29:26, earned All-PAC second team. Junior Derek Stauff of Grove City was 12th in 31:25.
Wolverines' coach Allison Williams was named the PAC Coach of the Year for the second straight year.
Bolinger also was PAC runner-up last year and placed third as a sophomore.
He also ran his fastest college race ever as a sophomore with a 26:50 at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional to place 20th overall and make the All-Mideast Regional team.
Explanation: Bolinger admitted that his time in this year's PAC meet was a lot slower than he has run previously, but, "The course we ran on this year was the first year we ran on the course.
"I probably was in a little better shape when I was sophomore," he added.
"Times will go down according to your level of competition. You really are going to run your best time probably in the Mideast Regional. Guys try for their peak performance."
Bolinger said Grove City has never qualified for the National Championships while he has been there, but that he is looking forward to the upcoming regional. But he believes it's a long-shot.
He said colleges don't have to qualify for the regional, and that there will be close to 300 schools competing.
"Realistically, I don't think we [will qualify], but who knows. I wouldn't count our guys out."
Has 3.72 GPA: The son of Sandy and George Bolinger, Josh also excels in the classroom with a 3.72 grade-point average as a history and pre-law major. He plans to graduate next spring and then enter law school, possibly at Ohio State.
While at Lakeview, Bolinger was a standout in cross country for coaches Ernie Grekis and Burke Ensign and in track under Grekis.
Two of his highlights occurred in state meets when he was a senior. He placed eighth in the Div. II state cross country meet to make the All-Ohio team. And he took sixth in the 3,200-meter run in the state track meet.