HEBRON - It's been a while since McDonald's girls cross country team has broke into the top 10.
Saturday, the Blue Devils made it happen at the Division III girls meet at National Trail Raceway.
McDonald finished ninth with 234 points, but it was the Blue Devils' best finish since taking a school-best third in 2002.
The Blue Devils were five points away from eighth-place Garaway (229) and just back from seventh-place Berkshire (221).
"The underclassmen are upset," McDonald coach Mike Richards said. "They wanted to get better. Their goal was to really be top seven today. Ninth place is a step in the right direction for us. It really is. I'm proud of every one of them."
Liberty Center beat Coldwater for the team title, 101-116.
McDonald's top five runners ran less than 21 minutes.
This is a Blue Devils team that graduates three seniors out of their top eight and returns four freshmen and a sophomore.
McDonald sophomore Bobbi Oakes paced the Blue Devils with a 51st place finish (19:46.75), while freshman Heidi Hoffman was 54th (19:50.12) - the Blue Devils' top two finishers.
"We have a nice corps coming back next year," Richards said.
On the other hand, Richards was complimentary of the outgoing senior class as well.
"It's a bittersweet thing because we've got a lot of seniors that have put a lot into this program. It's hard to see them go," he said.
In addition, Grand Valley freshman Jessica Finley was 32nd (19:21.36).
CHARTING THE COURSE: Howland junior Ryan Sullivan advanced to his first state meet Saturday, running the Division I boys race.
He was the first Trumbull County Division I runner to make it to state since Niles' Chris Acs in 1999.
Sullivan tried to do better than what he did a regionals. He finished 40th in a time of 16:02.77, a personal best.
"I tried to learn what I did at regionals and I took it out a little slower the first mile," Sullivan said. "I worked my way up through the race. This being state, there's more good runners, so it took a longer time to work my way up. I think I ran strategically the race I wanted to run and it worked out OK.
" ... I'm definitely hoping I'll make it a lot better next year."
STILL TOP 10: Boardman junior Mark Hadley was disappointed that he could not better last year's fifth-place finish at state, but he'll still take Saturday's sixth-place finish (15:29.34). That is a new Spartans' record.
"I'm excited," Hadley said. "It was not what I hoped for as far as place goes, but I improved my time from last year. I have to build up for next season."
The first mile went out around 5:40, faster than Hadley is accustomed.
Tippecanoe's Sam Wharton won the D-I title in a time of 15:09.95, while Westerville North's Jacob Dumford was second with 15:17.61.
"I tried to tell myself that this is the last meet of the season, got to keep plowing ahead and giving everything I had," Hadley said.
Boardman's team just missed qualifying for state by a couple of points. Saturday, he and teammate Alan Burns, who finished 38th (around 16 minutes), wanted to prove themselves.
"We want to try to establish ourselves as two strong individuals, just to give everyone a sneak peak of what we're going to do next year," Hadley said.
MULTI TASKING: McDonald's Tyler Smith was chewing gum after the Division III boys race, something he did during the race as a diversion.
"Sometimes I do, but I noticed it keeps me calm during the race - keeps my mind off the hurting. I think it's a great tactic to do," he said.
A HEAD OF THE REST: McDonald cross country parents have sported gigantic heads of the boys runners the past couple of years in the crowd at the state meets. The Fathead-like photos of the boys' heads are on sticks and stand out in the crowd.
"They were just an idea two years ago," McDonald's Bobby Johnson said. "They were something cool, fun to do. I'm not really sure (how they started). All the parents like to do those fun things.
"It's kind of cool. It's like you're at a baseball game and they have all the jerseys with players on."
SETTING THE PACE: Lakeview senior Eric Harris took 28th in the Division II boys race in a time of 16:26.04.
However, he wishes his teammates could've ran with him. Lakeview missed state by a couple of points.
"That hurt a little bit," Harris said. "I made it. I came down here, having fun. We had a couple down."
The pace set in the race, and most of the races, was fast.
"I knew if I could hold myself back the first mile because they went out so fast," Harris said. "I ran a good second half of the race. It was a fun trip and I'm glad I made it."
Liberty senior Jonathon Richmond, who took 52nd with a personal best time of 16:45.25, tried to pace Harris.
"The whole race. I was planning to go with him," Richmond said. "I didn't know he was that far head of me. I couldn't find him throughout the race."
Then, Richmond wanted to go at his own pace.
"I tried to pace myself the first mile and not kill myself," he said. "I think I did pretty good through that."
FIRST TIME AROUND: Girard freshman Domenique Hall, who led the Indians girls team all year, finished 119th in the girls Division II race 20:54.65
TAKING ALL-OHIO: Poland's girls team took fourth in the Division II girls standings with 194 points, edging fifth-place Crestwood (198).
St. Vincent-St. Mary won the team title by beating Lexington, 53-74. Kettering Alter was third with 158 points.
The top four teams and top 25 in each state race are named all-Ohio.
Poland's Libby Rogenski was 18th (19:03.68), while teammate McKinsie Klim was 21st (19:05.16).
Oakwood's Mary Kate Vaughn won the D-II individual title (17:41.57), while SV-SM's Rachel Iacofano was second (18:20.70). Both are freshmen.