Talawanda cross-country runners finish out stellar careers

Kiefer Bell earned a third-place finish in the state boys’ championship race last weekend capping a third consecutive appearance in the state race and a highly successful high school cross country career. CONTRIBUTED
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Kiefer Bell earned a third-place finish in the state boys’ championship race last weekend capping a third consecutive appearance in the state race and a highly successful high school cross country career. CONTRIBUTED

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Hannah Lippincott found herself behind a cluster of runners in the state girls’ cross country race last weekend requiring her to use a lot of energy to work her way through the crowd, which may explain her finish in 64th position in the state championship race. CONTRIBUTED

Hannah Lippincott found herself behind a cluster of runners in the state girls’ cross country race last weekend requiring her to use a lot of energy to work her way through the crowd, which may explain her finish in 64th position in the state championship race. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Hannah Lippincott found herself behind a cluster of runners in the state girls’ cross country race last weekend requiring her to use a lot of energy to work her way through the crowd, which may explain her finish in 64th position in the state championship race. CONTRIBUTED

A school-record time allowed Talawanda High School senior Kiefer Bell to finish in third place in the state boys’ cross country championship race November 6. Senior Hannah Lippincott was not so fortunate, however, as she found herself behind a cluster of runners early and finished 64th.

Both Talawanda runners finish out stellar careers, however. Bell appeared in the state race for the third consecutive year and Lippincott in her second straight appearance.

Bell finished 43rd as a sophomore and 20th last year as a junior. He also was named SWOC Runner of the Year for the third straight year and was on three SWOC championship teams and two Regional qualifying teams.

He is the third Talawanda male to qualify for the State Meet three times (Charles “Murph” Byrne 1969-70-71 and Mark Lindsey 1971-72-73). Only Michelle Schwegman has qualified four times (1985-88) for Talawanda in cross country.

“In the boys’ race, Will Zegarski from Little Miami and Connor Ackley from Hilliard Davidson took the race out the first mile in a very fast 4:34. They were able to separate themselves from the field by 5-6 seconds. Kiefer was in the top eight to ten places very early in the race and moved up to fourth at the mile mark,” Talawanda coach Paul Stiver said. “He pretty much held that position right next to Luke Ondracek from Walsh Jesuit until about 100 meters to go in the race. Once they hit the stadium turf, he kicked it in to secure the highest cross country state finish by a Talawanda male in history. The time also broke his school record from the District Meet.”

The third-place finish matches the same finish by female Karen Rayle in 1985.

Bell’s time last weekend was 15:16.5. Zegarski finished in 14:39.9 for first place, a strong 18.2 seconds ahead of Ackley’s 14.58.1 second-place time and that was 16.4 seconds off of the winning time. That winning time was a state record.

Mason won the team state championship title. There were 178 finishers in the race.

Lippincott took the 64th position among 183 race finishers with a time of 19:17.2, which was still faster than her time on the regional race where she finished 20th and qualified to the state meet.

“The Division 1 field is so deep with so many great runners. She got stuck behind a wall of people and had a little trouble navigating through the field. About a quarter mile into the race, she was in 111th place. At the mile mark she was in 72nd place. At the 2-mile mark she was in 58th place,” Stiver said. “So, she did a great job of moving up as much as she did. Unfortunately, having to move through all those runners, probably cost her energy-wise and she dropped a few places the last mile.”

The top finisher in the girls’ race clocked a time of 17:32.1. Perrysburg was the team champion.

Lippincott concludes a great career with another Academic All-State recognition (3.5 required) for her 4.0 GPA in high school. This was the second year in a row that she qualified to the state meet. Last year she was All-State for her top-30 finish (27th).

“This year didn’t go quite as well, but she still ran a strong race,” Stiver said. “Hannah was named the SWOC Runner of the Year for the third straight year this year and was on four SWOC championship teams and four Regional qualifying teams.”

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