Coal Grove, Rock Hill runners win at Fairland
ROME TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Laura Hamm’s strategy was to start quickly and finish fast.
The Coal Grove Middle School seventh-grader did just that and was strong in between Monday in winning the girls middle school division of the Fairland Early Bird Cross Country Invitational at Old Locks 27.
Hamm, running her first middle school race, completed the picturesque two-mile course beside the Ohio River in 13 minutes, 25.10 seconds. She was 1:24.10 ahead of runner-up Briana Reynolds of South Point. Regan Osborne of Russell was third. Those three finished ahead of 40 other runners, including those from Gallia Academy, Huntington East, Ironton, Our Lady of Fatima, Rock Hill and Symmes Valley.
The meet featured nine teams.
“I tried to go out pretty hard for the first 400 meters, then get into a good pace,” Hamm said.
Hamm’s teammate didn’t congratulate her because she has none. She is a one-girl squad.
Huntington East took the team title with 24 points. Five of the top 10 finishers were Bears. Riley Blake placed fourth, Rebecca Estep fifth, Elsa Meade sixth, Imaly Fetty ninth and Audrey White 10th.
Russell finished second, with 24 points, Gallia Academy third with 81 and Our Lady of Fatima fourth with 108.
Rock Hill’s Sam Simpson took the middle school boys title with a time of 12:20.9 and was 34 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Matthew Sloan of Russell. Simpson combined with teammates Noah Doddridge, who finished third, Dylan Griffith, who placed seventh, and Connor Blagg, who was 10th, to help the Redmen to the team title with 27 points. Russell was second with 44 and Huntington East third with 54.
Simpson, an eighth-grader, said he thought he might win the race.
“I started off slow and pushed through it,” Simpson said of his strategy. “I took the lead coming out of the first turn.”
Laikin Tarlton of Chillicothe won the girls high school portion of the meet, finishing in 12:41.9, ahead of Fairland’s McKenna Pannell, who finished second with a time of 12:56.2. Pannell helped the Dragons win the team championship with 40 points. Chillicothe was second with 52 and Rock Hill third with 65. Fairland’s Emma Marshall placed sixth, Deanna Hall ninth and Olivia Lewis 11th to help the Dragons to the title.
Other competing teams included Coal Grove, Gallia Academy, Huntington High, Ironton, Rock Hill, Russell and Spring Valley.
Andrew McCallum, a junior for the Chillicothe boys, won his first career race in impressive fashion with a time of 10:50.4.
McCallum didn’t run the last two years because of an autoimmune problem known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which attacked the linings of nerves in his legs.
“I looked up the times from last year and knew I could be aggressive,” McCallum said. “At the one-mile mark, I started pushing. It felt great.”
Fairland’s Ethan Lafon finished second in 11:16.7.
Rock Hill won the boys team title, with 29 points. Fairland was second with 61 and Chillicothe third with 69. Rock Hill’s Ethan Miller, Jasson Aguilar and Logan Boggs finished third, fourth and fifth respectively. The Redmen’s Noah Wood was seventh, Brady Floyd 10th, Nick Blankenship 11th and Eli Baker 12th.