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History follows Maplewood boys into regional

Staff file photo / John Vargo Maplewood’s Alex Donaldson, right, races McDonald’s Caleb Domitrovich, left, to the finish line at the Billy Goat Challenge earlier this season.

The years flow like water out of the mouths of the Maplewood High School distance legends — 1972, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2015.

Only rival McDonald equals seven state championships in Ohio boys cross country history.

That’s why winning district titles, as the Rockets did last weekend, matters very little in the grand scheme of Maplewood boys cross country folklore.

“To be honest, we could care less about winning districts,” said Maplewood boys cross country coach Dave Deeter, who coached the Rockets to their last two state championships. “They’re so focused on performing well this weekend that there was no celebration. They could’ve cared less.”

Saturday’s Division III Boardman Regional, starting at 9 a.m., is a focal point for these Rockets, so is this year’s state meet at Fortress Obetz, southeast of Columbus.

Senior John Crouch said the history drives the team to run better, especially this time of the year.

“It drives us to do what the greats have done before, get to state, do good at state and do damage at state,” Crouch said. “It’s a lot of history with it to do what they’ve done before.

“We all love it. It’s great. It’s quite an adrenaline rush when you think about it. You’re actually in the race, a lot of fun.”

Deeter said this year’s team has a good grouping of upperclassmen around underclassmen talent, working well together.

“They worked really well together with different types of personalities,” Deeter said. “Weren’t really sure how they were going to mesh, and they meshed wonderfully together.”

They run well together in packs, a trademark of a good distance team like Maplewood.

“They realize they’re going to be better if they work together, and if they work with their competition,” Deeter said. “They know there are key guys they go out and run with and if they go out and work with each other they’re going to do better.

“They try not to let that go.”

It’s a different feeling running in that grouping.

“It gives you an energy you don’t have when you’re running by yourself,” Crouch said. “It’s a different energy you feel in a pack of guys all moving quickly through a race.”

Eventually, it’ll be Maplewood trying to make state as one of the top four teams. The top 16 runners also advance to state.

Freshman Alex Donaldson is prepared for that last half mile where he has to pass a couple of runners to get his team in position to go to state.

“It cuts out all skill you have and it becomes guts, hard work and the mindset you have to get it done,” he said.

This Boardman course will be muddy because of the deluge of precipitation fallen in the Mahoning Valley over the past week or so.

That makes Maplewood very happy.

“It works into anybody’s favor that’s been doing a good amount of mileage and hard workouts, over 3 miles in workout is going to work in your favor,” Deeter said. “A 5K course that’s muddy is going feel longer than 3.1 miles.”

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