BAZETTA - Wyatt Hartman liked what he saw from his Maplewood team.
Prior to Saturday's Division III district boys cross country meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, the Rockets won its previous two meets with a perfect score of 15 points.
Hartman took third during Saturday's race and watched his teammates follow closely behind.
In fact, the top five, which account for the team's scoring, amassed 33 points to hold off McDonald for the team title. The Blue Devils scored 47 points. It was the battle of the top two teams in the state according to the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Poll.
Seeing Derek Morrison and Mike Dahmen be the fourth and fifth, respectively, Maplewood finishers was very satisfying.
"That's something we've worked on, getting those guys up with me - getting their confidence up. I know Derek Morrison can run with me, it's a matter of getting him up.
"That's been nice the past couple of weeks - getting our pack closer with the time between the first and fifth guys shorter. Overall, it's really helping us."
Hartman has different running partners during the previous week's Sim Earich meet at the fairgrounds.
"Last week, I ran with Derek and Solomon (Yoder)," Hartman said. "That really helps pull those guys along. Those guys are coming along good."
The top three teams and top 12 individuals advance to Saturday's regional at Boardman High School.
McDonald's Patrick Kunkel took the top spot, holding off South Range's Tim Nichols. Hartman, Yoder and Tristan Dahmen rounded out the top five.
Mineral Ridge's Logan Smith was seventh and Badger's Owen Reeher was ninth.
Rootstown was third with 94 points.
Kunkel was close to being rested, but McDonald's second and third runners Bobby Johnson and Allan Coviello sat out Saturday's race.
"Coach (Chris Rupe) was contemplating if I was even going to run today," Kunkel said. "We have nine guys and we're still trying to find out the top seven and an alternate."
Kunkel has won his fair share of races this season, but has also run a lot this season.
"I've run more races hard that I ever had in my career at McDonald," he said. "I guess it's not too bad running back-to-back. We had the week off last week."
Saturday wasn't a week Kunkel was going to take off. Winning by more than 12 seconds proved that point.
"It's been a pleasure to run against him. He just has that extra gear that last half mile," McDonald's Heidi Hoffman said.
Speaking of McDonald, the girls, ranked eighth in the state, held off South Range for the team title, 35-52. Badger (126), Rootstown (149) and Wickliffe (151) round out the top five.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to next week's regional in Boardman.
South Range's Mollie Pierson held off Maplewood's Erin Pavick. Maplewood's Alanna Shamrock, Hoffman and McDonald's Bobbi Oakes round up the top five.
Also qualifying for regionals are Grand Valley's Jessica Finley, Bristol's Becca Merlino and Mineral Ridge's Tatum Flesch.
As for Pavick, she's happy she's running with Shamrock.
"We work great together. Next week, we want to try to get into the top 16," Pavick said.