The Chillicothe Boys and Girls Cross Country teams both ended their successful seasons with a strong performance at the Division I Central District meet.
Led by coaches Rob Strong and Heather Tarlton, the Cavalier runners had a very successful season highlighted by wins at the FAC Championship meet for both boys and girls.
"I am most proud of 2 things," said Coach Strong. "First is the fact that we won the FAC. This was considered a rebuilding year, and the guys worked their butts off for that accomplishment. Second is how hard each kid works every day. It is hard to motivate guys that may never run varsity, but those guys work so hard and want to contribute. It is inspiring to me to coach."
On the boys side, the season started strong with wins at the Fairland 2 Miler and the Circleville Kiwanis Invitational of which Strong said was an important meet for CHS.
"We went there and ran well and managed to win the meet," said Coach Strong. "That was a point in the season that we realized that if we work together we can accomplish some great things."
The mid-season provided a tough stretch of races for the Cavaliers, with the Bobcat Invite, Bob Reall Invite, and Saturday Night Lights meets all being held in back-to-back weeks. Saturday Night Lights was a special moment this season to Strong.
"Saturday Night Lights stands out every year," said Strong. "This year was cool because we finished third, and we dared greatly to run well. We went out hard, raced well, and the results showed."
Finally, the end-of-season meets saw strong performances from the Cavs, who won the FAC Meet at Jackson and beat every team in the Southeast District while competing at the Division I Central District Meet.
The season also saw some great leadership develop.
"Two guys surprised me this season," said Coach Strong. "First was Daniel Hurff. I knew how good Daniel could be, but he shocked me with his desire and ability to show up and simply put in the work in order to be great. Second was Michael Lapurga. Michael is the perfect athlete to coach. Does everything to the best of his ability but sometimes that doesn’t always workout. This year it did, and I was so happy for him because he ran well when it mattered, and it proved that his work had finally paid off."
Four boys were named to the All-FAC Team: freshman Daniel Hurff, sophomores Ryan Blum and Reid Proctor, and senior Aiden Cunningham. Senior Jakob Workman joined Hurff, Blum, and Proctor on the All-District Team.
For the girls, their season was highlighted by a second place finish at Zane Trace and a strong race at the Bobcat Invitational.
"The non-championship meet that I most look forward to is Bobcat," said Coach Tarlton. "I love that course and the culture the meet organizers create with their fun trophies and extra touches, like pumpkin carvings. It's also a good middle ground for us because it is competitive but not as much as other Columbus meets. Plus, it is local for our travel but still has some central Ohio schools that help us keep sharpening our races for our championship season."
The Lady Cavaliers won the FAC Meet and had a strong finish at the District Meet. Sophomore Katherine McCallum, junior Simone Fleurima, and senior Allison Gozy were all named to the All-FAC Team. McCallum and Fleurima were also named to the All-District Team.
"I am most proud of the girls coming together for the conference win," said Coach Tarlton. "It was a close race and some girls did exactly what the team needed them to do to save us points. On a tough course like Jackson's, it would have been easy to make excuses, but they came through for the win."
The girls' team graduates seniors Maylee Young and Allison Gozy, while the boys' team graduates seniors Brady Wood, Jakob Workman, Michael Lapurga, Evan Friend, and Aiden Cunningham.
Photos contributed by Mr. Roger Blum.