Two area III schools off to state

Boardman senior Jake Lape qualified to state as an individual in Division I.
BOARDMAN -- The boys cross country teams at McDonald and Maplewood set up yet another Division III state meet showdown after finishing first and third, respectively, Saturday in the regional at Boardman High School.
The two were the only area teams to advance to state. Boardman senior Jake Lape qualified to state as an individual in Div. I, Salem senior Patrick Gorby advanced in Div. II, and Scott Wolfe of East Palestine advanced in Div. III.
Maplewood's Andy Arnio was the first across the finish line in Div. III with a time of 16 minutes, 50.32 seconds, while teammate Andy Morgan was third (17:07.43) and McDonald's Joe Copploe, fourth (17:15.46).
The elements
The course was quickly churned to mud and the runners battled that, in addition to intermittent showers and a cold wind.
The top four teams, along with top 16 finishers not on a qualifying team, advanced to the state meet scheduled next Saturday at Scioto Downs outside of Columbus.
McDonald had a surprisingly large margin of victory, scoring 49 points to 71 by St. Thomas, 77 by Maplewood and 88 by East Canton.
"We didn't expect anything like that, there were four really good teams in this regional," McDonald coach Chris Rupe said. "We felt good that we could finish in the top four and I think with that confidence to make state, we were able to relax a lot. The results are better than I could have dreamed. The kids just hit a good race today."
Copploe, a senior, got plenty of help from junior T.J. Holland (7th, 17:44.54) and senior Taylor Sowers (8th, 17:45.18). Sophomores Lance Ronghi and Mitchell Thornton finished 18th (18:07.94) and 20th (18:21.42), respectively. Freshman Todd Stitt was 27th and junior Eric Pusay was 39th.
Either McDonald or Maplewood has won every state meet since 1999, with Maplewood winning a year ago. McDonald's last title was in 2004.
Overcoming conditions
Arnio, who finished first in the state meet last year, just ahead of teammate Morgan, said the poor running conditions were not a problem for the Rockets.
"We went in thinking that the mud and the rain and the wind hurt the other teams but not us," Arnio said. "We think it helps to push us and it helped us achieve our goal to make state."
Fellow senior Chaz Rice supported the top two Rockets with a 17th-place finish (18:04.71). Senior Steve Barnhart was 35th and freshman Tom Bottorff was ninth. Freshman Aaron Harrison finished 38th and junior Phil Pavick was 46th.
Wolfe was 10th in 17:51.64.
In Div. I, Boardman's total of 170 was good for seventh place. Hudson (103) won the meet followed by Green 137, Mentor 138, Medina 144, North Canton Hoover 166 and Massillon Perry 166.
Lape qualified for the state meet for the second straight season by finishing 13th (17:44.03) on Saturday. He finished 46th at the state meet a year ago.
His twin brother, Rick Lape, just missed qualifying, placing 18th with a time of 17:50.28. The 16th best time was 17:46.26.
Other Boardman runners: freshman Sam Deskin 33rd, sophomore Seth Westfall, 58th, sophomore Ryan Westfall 69th, senior Adam Haushalter 85th and junior Matt Moore 102nd.
Gorby, who was 19th last year at Scioto Downs when Salem won the Div. II state title, finished eighth (17:36.79) on Saturday.
Poland senior Jim Ramson just missed qualifying as an individual, placing 18th with a time of 18:01.29. The 16th place time was 17:59.07.
Poland finished eighth as a team, Struthers was 15th and Lakeview 16th. Team qualifiers were Woodridge, with 19 points, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 139, Walsh Jesuit 142 and Aurora 142.

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