Area cross country runners find themselves at the doorstep of a berth in the annual Ohio High School Athletic Association State Cross Country Championship.
However, a big challenge still remains.
Area harriers will make their way to the regional this Saturday with the majority of area competitors converging on North High School in Pickerington, while Harrison Central will send its two entrants to Boardman High School in Youngstown.
Action gets under way at both sites Saturday with the boys' races. The meet begins at 11 a.m. and races go off every 45 minutes, starting with Division III, II and I. The girls' racing begins at 1:30 p.m. and follows the same schedule.
The state meet is slated for Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. This marks the second year the meet has been held there after a lengthy stay at Scioto Downs Racetrack.
The top four teams in each division along with the top 16 individuals will earn their way to the state meet, which is the exact same formula that was utilized at the district.
St. Clairsville will send both its boys and girls' teams as a unit to the regional meet.
The Red Devils' boys are etched into box no. 9 for the start of Saturday's race. St. C. finished second in the district. Senior Drake Walker is the top Red Devils' entrant this weekend.
The girls are also penciled into box no. 9 for their race, which will hear the sounding of the gun at 2:15 p.m. Seniors Julianna Madzia and Amy Castle lead the way for the Lady Red Devils.
Based on geography, Harrison Central has its runners dispatched to Boardman. Representing the Huskies are Robert Tipton and Taylor Shaw.
St. John Central's girls are the lone area team in Division III to qualify. The Lady Irish were fourth in the district last weekend and are ticketed for box no. 19 for Saturday. Sophomore Fallon Doyle leads the way for the Irish. She was the regional champion last year and is coming off the district title last weekend.
Also in the Division III girls' field are Martins Ferry's trio of Jamie Truchan, Sunshine Wrenn and Lindsay Cunningham. The Lady Riders are slated to begin in Box no. 16. Shadyside's duo of Tara Tollet and McKayla Kinemond will be in Box no. 4.
For the first time in its school history, East Richland Christian will be represented. The Lady Lions' senior Hannah Surface is ticketed for Box no. 12.
The lone local boy in the Division III field is St. John Central senior Corey Leasure. He'll begin his 3.1 mile jaunt in Box no. 12.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org