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Ironton runners 7th in state XC

COLUMBUS — From nowhere to Top 10.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers’ cross country team began the season unranked and not even a thought on anyone’s minds. Ironton not only proved the critics wrong as the won the district title and finished runners-up in the regional meet, on Saturday they finished seventh in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state cross country meet.

Ironton had 198 points, just one behind Cincinnati Summit Country Day. Independence won the title with 85 points followed by McDonald with 94.

“We showed well for ourselves,” said Ironton coach Tim Thomas. “The four seniors had a great year and we’ll miss them, but we have some good younger kids behind them and we look forward to our time with them.”

Senior Gary Monroe was low man for Ironton as he finished 47th overall in the field with a 16:50.5 time. Senior Pierce Reeves was six spots back with a 16:54.4 time followed by senior Dustin Moritz at No. 77 with a 17:11.4 time, junior Levi Runyon ran 17:34.6 to place No. 97, and senior Adam Stumbo was No. 107 with a 17:50.4 clocking.

Rounding out Ironton’s top seven entries was Tyler Lawless at 20:30.5 and Cody Gee at 25:18.7.

Monroe — who led Ironton in each meet the past two seasons — was happy with the team’s performance but somewhat disappointed in his own.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Monroe. “ I hit the two-mile mark and I hit a lull. I didn’t quit running. I was still trying hard, but I couldn’t move.

“But it was an awesome season. The only way it could have been better is if I had a faster time (today). I wouldn’t change anything. We were district champs and regional runners-up and seventh in the state.”

Stumbo was excited to be part of the historic season that saw Ironton put a team in the state meet for the first time.

“I’m just happy to be here,” said Stumbo. “We ran the best we could today. This year we came together as a team. We supported each other and we ran together and got our times closer together.”

Reeves said the meet was something he could never have imagined.

“It was surreal,” said Reeves. “Three seconds after the race started you heard the crowd and the feeling was amazing. This was the best team we’ve ever had.”

“We had a great year,” said Moritz who put up a personal-best time.

“We had a rough start, then we got healthy and we started to get better. When we came back from (a meet in) North Carolina, we made a big push and got to the state.”

Runyon said it was teamwork that made the difference.

“We all worked together. We knew we could do it and we did the best we could. Hopefully, we can do it again,” said Runyon who is only a junior.

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ Taylor Hacker ran in the Division III meet for the second straight year, the first Ironton runner to qualify for the state meet on two occasions.

Hacker ran a 20:04.8 time to finish 59th in the field of 144 runners. Tammy Berger of Versailles won the race with a time of 18:13.3.

“It was a lot tougher race,” said Hacker. “I want to (get my personal record) and I wanted to finish among the top 25. It was just faster than last year.”

Hacker said running last year was an asset when she stepped onto the Scioto Downs infield for the start of the race.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. Last year I was extremely nervous,” said Hacker.