By Rob Kiser
Piqua junior Andy Mayse couldn’t have asked for a better race.
It just wasn’t quite enough to get to his ultimate goal.
Mayse, after finishing 65th in 17:24.34 in the regional meet last year and coming in with the 44th fastest time, finished 18th in 16:26.93 at the Troy Division I regional cross country meet.
He just missed his goal of advancing to the state meet, which required a top 16 finish.
“I feel like I ran a really good race and time,” Mayse said. “I wanted to get to state.”
So, how did he improve so much from last season at regionals.
“It really is building up the base miles you do in the summer,” Mayse said. “That allows you to do the training you need to do and stay injury free.”
As the race went on Saturday, Mayse knew he had a chance.
“It was a pack race, but I thought it would be a tighter pack,” Mayse said. “The pack was more spread out than I thought it would be. I knew I was in pretty good position.”
He was 18th at the two-mile mark and stayed there.
“I was trying to catch the people in front of me and I just couldn’t quite get there,” Mayse said. “The hills were what killed me. I was running pretty well and they just took all the steam out of me.”
Saturday’s race gives Mayse a lot of confidence for the future.
“I want to make it to state in either the 1,600 or 3,200 in track,” he said. “I definitely want to make it to state in cross country. I have been here twice — third time is the charm.”
And it would make him the first Piqua runner since cross country switched to a 5K distance back in the late 1970s to make it to state.
Versailles sophomore Joey Spitzer earned a state berth Saturday, finishing 12th in 16:24.18.
“I was 21st in D-III last year as a freshman,” Spitzer said. “It was a goal to get to state, but I knew it was going to be tough.”
Spitzer ran 12th almost the entire race.
“I knew I didn’t have to pass anybody to get to state,” he said with a smile. “I knew all I had to worry about was keeping people from behind passing me.”
Spitzer hopes to run another strong race next week.
“I just want to go out and run my best and see what I can do,” he said.
With about 350 meters to go, Newton senior Brady McBride made his move — and hoped he could hold it to the very end.
“I started my kick and hoped I could hold off (West Liberty-Salem’s) Joey Adams,” said McBride “I was able to outkick him last week, but he stayed with me for awhile this time. I started to worry. Joey made me work for it.”
McBride was able to hold on for a regional title, however, staying in second most of the race before coming on at the end to win in 16:06.19. Adams was second in 16:08.60.
“It feels great,” McBride said of winning the regional title. “I’ve been coming to this race since I was a little kid and winning it has always been a goal of mine. I love this course.”
Russia senior Caleb Ball advanced to state, finishing fourth in 16:23.40.
“I have been there three times running,” Ball said. “I wanted to go out and run a race that I knew would be sure to get me to state. I think it gives me an advantage over anyone who hasn’t been there before. I just want to go out and run my best next week.
Miami East freshman Gavin Horne also advanced to state, finishing 11th in 16:40.53.
“Last week,” Horne said with a smile when asked when he first thought about making it to state as a freshman. “I didn’t think I would (before that). I was a little nervous, but I was pretty comfortable once the race started.”
The state meet is at National Trail Raceway in Hebron next week.
The boys D-III race will be at 1:30, followed by the D-II race at 2:15 p.m.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.