BOARDMAN - It's been a while since a McDonald runner won the Spartan Invitational title. It dates back to when Stuart Henderson, the Division III individual state champion in 1989, won the individual title at Boardman.
Saturday, Bobby Johnson distanced himself from Gilmour Academy's Alexander Clapacs and held off a hard-charging Tristan Dahman from Maplewood to take the individual title in 15 minutes, 57 seconds - the only Division III runner in the field to go lower than 16 minutes. Clapacs took third. Mineral Ridge's Logan Smith and Gilmour Academy's John Brett rounded out the top five.
Clapacs pushed the pace in the first mile before Johnson pulled away. It changed Johnson's strategy of pacing himself through the race to pushing for a lower time.
"I was hoping to be a little faster, but it got a little tough pushing by myself. I'm still happy with it," Johnson said.
As for Maplewood, they repeated as Spartan Invitational champions, beating Gilmour Academy, 71-84. McDonald was third with 91 points.
However, it's a new age for the Rockets as their top four (Dahmen, Solomon Yoder, Derek Morrison and Jake Hall) packed up Saturday.
"This was awesome, a very good present to see the guys run exceptionally well," said Maplewood coach Dave Deeter, who celebrated his birthday Saturday. "All the way through our 15th guy, we ran very well - big PRs. Even from last week (at Tiffin), which is impressive and after a hard week. So, it was very gratifying."
As for the Division III girls race, McDonald's Heidi Hoffman took sixth (19:50.2).
"It was probably the most positive race I've ever had, mentally," Hoffman said. "We have a few teammates that weren't feeling 100 percent today, but we pulled through and I think we did pretty good."
St. Thomas Aquinas' Athena Welsh won the race (19:32). Independence's Jen Wisniewski, Gilmour Academy's Hannah Markel, Western Reserve's Ashley Rowley and Gilmour Academy's Caitlin Whetstone placed in the top five. Gilmour Academy beat St. Thomas Aquinas for the team title, 39-77. McDonald was third with 118 points.
In the Division I boys race, Olentangy Liberty beat host Boardman for the title, 111-147. However, Boardman's Mark Hadley beat out Chardon's Nick Elswick for the individual crown, 15:07.8 to 15:08.7.
In the Division II boys race, Lakeview's Chris Edie took sixth (16:57.4).