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Seniors enjoy county cross country invite

| August 30, 2017

WARSAW – The finish line at River View High School’s cross country county invite was lined with people cheering and clapping for their favorite runners.

“It’s nice to be close to home,” said Jordan Olinger, a senior on River View’s boys’ team. “It’s a different atmosphere because you know the people cheering and can hear them yelling your name.”

His classmate Sawyer Neal agreed with him.

“This invite is pretty cool because you have all these people here who usually can’t come to our away invites,” he said. “You have family members, students and peers all here supporting us.”

The county invite was held Aug. 29 and included junior high and high school runners from Coshocton, River View, Ridgewood, Newcomerstown and Cambridge high schools. The junior high athletes ran a two mile race and the high school participants ran a 5K. About 65 junior high athletes, 40 high school boys and 30 high school girls competed in the Aug. 29 invite, which also was River View’s senior night.

“This race is an opportunity to showcase our local athletes,” said Gwenna Neal, River View’s cross country coach. “Competition is great for everyone. Competition makes you better. It is so positive and empowering for the athletes from the community to know one another better and to key off of each other.”

She added that running on River View’s home course is fun.

“River View is special in that our cross country course is on our widely acclaimed FFA farm,” Gwenna said. “It is beautiful from all views and it is fun for the kids. At times, it is like running thorough a corn maze. This showcases this area of Ohio and appreciation for the beauty of this Appalachian region and also the hard work that our local athletes (from all the school districts) put into the lifestyle of agriculture.”

Austin Hill, another senior on the team, is glad he decided to try cross country with his sister.

“It’s so much different than other sports,” he said. “You have individual goals, but you know your teammates are out there giving it their best and that pushes you. You can’t succeed without your team.”

RVHS senior Wade Fennell agreed that they are there to support each other.

“We are so close,” he said. “We are like a big family. It’s amazing how well you know each other by the end of the season.”

This was senior Skyler Stewart’s first year running with River View’s girls.

“I wanted to do this because I saw the bond they have and how they are like a family,” she said. “There is nothing else like it.”

RVHS senior Cassidi Bookless agreed that their school has a great cross country program.

“I’ve been in cross country for six years and it’s really sad to think this is my last year,” she said.

RVHS senior Livia Cross said cross country has meant a lot to her.

“It’s hard to believe this is my fifth year and that it’s coming to an end,” she said.

Nicole Bryant, a senior and two year member of River View’s girls cross country team, said the county invite is a great way to show people how they come together as a team.

“I really wish I would have done this earlier,” she said. “I’ve never been part of a team that is so dedicated to each other and family oriented.”

River View’s list of seniors also included runners Eva Cross and Wynter Gray and managers Tori Stevens and Chanelle Robinson. Plus the school has Coshocton High School senior Emily Casey running with them for the second year in a row since CHS doesn’t have a full team.

“It was really different for me coming in from Coshocton, but they just all welcomed me in, took me in and supported me,” Casey said. “I’m very happy I’ve gotten to run with them.”

This also was the final county invite for Ridgewood High School seniors Elizabeth Lintz and Fred Doberstein.

“I just really enjoy running, my team and how supportive we are,” Lintz said.

Doberstein has enjoyed his time with Ridgewood’s cross country team and coming to the county invite at River View.

“It’s nice coming here and competing with schools in the area,” he said.

The top five places in the boys race went to: Sawyer Neal – River View; Austin Hill – River View; Cole Smith – Cambridge; Trevor Hawkins – Ridgewood; and Nathaniel Stamper – River View. The girls top five finishers were: Megan Goggin – Cambridge; Sydney Stewart – River View; Trew Davis – Newcomerstown; Aliya Stevens – Cambridge; and Cassidi Bookless – River View.

River View’s timing system and the software for it was created by Steve Martin.

“He times all of our races from time trials, to community fundraisers, to our home XC events,” Gwenna said. “He is a dedicated parent and supporter of our sport.”

Lane Beatty encouraged the younger cross country athletes to stick with the sport.

“Don’t quit after junior high,” he said. “Continue to run in the program because it’s just going to get better and better and the bonds with your teammates will get stronger.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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