Middletown’s Conant Smith set a course record Saturday in the Division I district cross country race at Cedarville Univeristy. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY GREG BILLING

Prep cross country: Course record for Middies’ Smith, Talawanda duo advances

CEDARVILLE — The district cross country meet was another record-setting day for Middletown High School standout Conant Smith on Saturday. It was also a day to remember for Talawanda’s David Kraushar and Kiefer Bell.

The Braves’ duo turned the corner on the Cedarville University course and sprinted shoulder to shoulder down the long stretch to the finish. Kraushar finished ahead of Bell by 0.02 seconds as both qualified for the Division I regional meet Saturday in Troy.

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“In the past I’ve ran my worst times of the year here. It’s kind of a mental battle,” said Kraushar, who finished 22nd overall in a personal-best 16 minutes, 42.13 seconds. “I put in a lot of miles over the summer, so I was ready for the course this year.”

He was also ready for Bell’s challenge. The duo have been finishing close together all season.

“I tried not to let him beat me. All year he’s been right on my tail,” Kraushar said. “He showed up, we pushed each other, and I couldn’t ask for more from him. He’s going to be fantastic when he’s older.”

The teammates talked before the race and planned to start their kick with about 400 meters remaining, about halfway down the straightaway. They figured with the long stretch many runners would kick too soon.

“We saw a few people pass us but we knew … we were going to be able to get them,” Bell said. “Right at the three-mile mark, about halfway down the straightaway, we just took off.”

Bell said his best time this season ranked him as the 43rd best runner in the district field. The top 36 advanced to regional.

“Our coaches knew we could get up there,” said Bell, who cut nine seconds off his personal-best time. “They believed in us and we believed in ourselves.”

As for Smith, he continued to dominate the Elvin R. King course by lowering his course record. Last season Smith won district with a course-record 15:18.8. He beat it Saturday (15:15.24) despite running in a steady 20 mph wind with gusts up to 30 mph.

“Coach said if you feel good, go out and try to break it. During the race, I felt pretty good,” Smith said. “I went through two miles and felt pretty good. I thought I could make it happen.”

Smith, ranked No. 9 in the nation by DyeStat.com, won by 18.66 seconds over Centerville senior Ben Burkett.

Also in the D-I boys meet, Lebanon qualified for the regional meet as a team.

In D-I girls, Lebanon and Talawanda both qualified as teams.

Among highlights from the district meet at Voice of America Park in West Chester Township on Saturday, Lakota East won the D-I girls district title and sophomore Kelsi Harris finished as runner-up in 18:23.66. The Lakota West boys also qualified for the D-I regional meet.

In D-II, Badin’s boys won a district title and Monroe’s boys finished as runners-up to also advance to the regional. Madison senior Nathan Thobe qualified as an individual.

Monroe junior Emily McMurry won the D-II district championship to pace the Hornets, which also advanced as a team. Fenwick missed qualifying as a team by five points, but qualified senior Hannah Tebbe and sophomores Jaina Hellman and Rachel Tebbe as individuals. Badin juniors Paige Parrish and Samantha Caballero also qualified.

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