HEBRON - Successful cross country runners are never satisfied.
"I'm just really frustrated," said South Range senior Tim Nichols, who finished 12th in the Division III state cross country meet in becoming the first Raider boy to stand on the podium three years.
Senior Nate Boyer also had tears in his eyes after placing 16th in Division II - the highest finish ever by an East Liverpool boy.
"I wanted it to be the best race of my life," Boyer said. "If you're not on top, it's not the best race of your life."
West Branch senior Drake Lohnes had his worst showing at state in three years, placing 42nd in Division II.
"It was a poor performance," Lohnes said. "I don't know why. I didn't run well and didn't perform well."
It is the third state appearance for all three area standouts and they know it is all part of the game for distance runners.
"Anything can happen in this type of race," East Liverpool coach Scott Thornberry said. "At this level of competition, in any sport, the average person doesn't know what you are facing."
Boyer grabbed the 16th and final spot on the podium in Division II, completing the 3.1-mile course at National Trail Raceway in 16 minutes, 11 seconds.
He was in better spirits after stepping off the podium with a medal.
"A little bit," Boyer said.
"I could sense it was harder on him because there were people up there he's beat," Thornberry said.
Boyer was in seventh place after the opening mile before slipping back.
"I think I got trapped behind (at the start) a little bit," Boyer said. "I wanted to try to draft off the leaders and save something to try to catch them.
"I usually take it to them and they took it to me today."
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Mick Iacofano topped the 150-runner field in 15:32, knocking over a minute off his 23rd-place time last year. Defiance senior Abel Flores was the runner-up for the second straight year.
"Everyone was on top of their game today," Boyer said. "Everyone had the same game plan."
The previous best finish by an East Liverpool boy was by Mark Montgomery, who was 39th in Division I in 2002.
"He'll understand that more later on," Thornberry said.
Boyer said Saturday's race will motivate him during track season.
"I'll be back and I'll attack harder," Boyer said.
Lohnes, who nipped Boyer to win the Boardman regional meet last weekend, was 42nd in 16:37.
"I'm happy made it here, but I didn't perform today," Lohnes said. "It's pretty disappointing."
He never was able to get close to the front.
"Warming up, I kept telling myself, 'I'm fine. This is what I've put all the time this week training for,'" Lohnes said. "The start didn't go well. It didn't happen today.
"I didn't want it to end like this, but it did."
Like the others, Nichols is one of the top runners to come out of his school. He placed 12th out of 143 Division III boys runners on Saturday in 16:04, his best time in three state appearances.
"I wasn't happy with it," he said. "I had a really bad start and got boxed in."
Nichols was 11th as a junior and 15th as a sophomore.
Versailles senior Samuel Prakel repeated as the Division III state champion in 15:16, finishing 4 seconds ahead of Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas senior Cory Glines.
- Even with the rain from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy this week, the course and parking lots held up.
"The course was in decent shape," Boyer said. "It had a little wear and tear from the race before."
- Boyer was 10 seconds off his personal best of 16:01.
"You really can't compare courses," Thornberry said. "That's why we emphasis place over time in cross country."
Parks, Lightfoot sport solid showings
HEBRON - After earning All-Ohio honors in track, United junior Allison Parks and Minerva senior Kaele Lightfoot followed it up as All-Ohioans in cross country.
Lightfoot was 11th in Division II and Parks placed 13th in Division III at Saturday's state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway.
"Eleven is my lucky number," Lightfoot said as she pointed to her jersey number.
A former state track champion, Lightfoot was 11th out of 145 Division II girls runners in a personal-best 18 minutes, 41 seconds over the 3.1-mile course.
"My senior year, my last race - I'm super excited," she said.
Lightfoot didn't take the lead like she did last year and picked her spots this time.
"I kept working," she said. "I made sure I didn't get in a fog while running. I got through it."
She had enough left for the finish.
"I placed myself where I wanted to," she said. "It's the state meet, you just go."
This was her fourth trip to the state cross country meet and the first time she was on the podium.
"I'm extremely happy," Lightfoot said. "I PR'd (personal record) by seven seconds.
"It's cross. I wasn't looking to get first or second."
Dayton Oakwood freshman Mary Kate Vaughn won the race by 39 seconds in 17:41.
"All of us just let her go," Lightfoot said. "She's really good."
Parks was 13th out of 141 Division III girls runners in 19:00, missing her personal best by one second.
"I am super excited with how I did today," she said. "I loved the race I ran. I had some great competition."
Parks got caught in some traffic at the start and worked her way through the field.
"I had to make up for what I did," she said.
Running in a pack down the final stretch, Parks used her track speed to surge ahead for her 13th-place finish.
"I knew if I would just cruise it in and get 17th," Parks said. "I decided to kick it in and see what I get."
Coldwater sophomore Sarah Kanney won in 17:58 after placing ninth last year.
A two-time state qualifier in both cross country and track, Parks is not going to overboard on goals for the future.
"I just want to get better," she said.
- Burton Berkshire coach Julie Cole, a 1979 graduate of Lisbon High School, was recognized at the state meet Saturday for receiving the Ohio High School Athletic Association's Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
She has been teaching and coaching at Berkshire since 1985, leading 16 girls teams and seven boys teams to the state cross country meet.
The Berkshire girls finished seventh in Division III on Saturday.
- Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary won the Division II girls team title for the fourth straight year with 53 points. The Irish featured three of the top 14 finishers, including state runner-up Rachel Iacofano, a freshman.
- Lightfoot said she has been in contact with "a lot of colleges" but is leaning toward Southern Mississippi, whose coach made surprise visit to Saturday's state meet.
- Parks will begin basketball practice on Monday as the United girls will be aiming for a fifth straight Inter-Tri County League upper tier title.
"It's a different kind of hard," she said.