by MICHAEL LEONARD | SPORTS EDITOR
Walsh Jesuit boys cross country headed into the Division I state meet looking to make a statement -- preferably one as loud as the fluorescent green tops the Warriors have taken to wearing at states.
While the Warriors didn't claim any team hardware, their position among the state's elite remains intact.
Walsh finished sixth in the Division I boys team race with 219 points.
Cincinnati St. Xavier won the team title with 71 points, finishing well ahead of runner-up Mason.
Although Walsh boys coach Pat Ritchie always would like to see his team finish at the top, he was content with his team's finish, given the competition.
"That's still pretty good," Ritchie said. "You could see that everybody was running very fast today. Division I is a meatgrinder. St. X has a very good team.
"We had a number of guys run their personal bests today," Ritchie said. "All we ask them is to run their best effort and that's what we got today."
In the individual race, senior Brian Brennan figured to be among the favorites. Brennan was part of the large cluster of runners pushing each other at the front of the pack.
"It was a great thing to be a part of this race," Brennan said. "It made it competitive pretty much the whole way through."
Brennan was shoulder-to-shoulder with a group of about 15 runners through the first mile and a half. At the two-minute point, Brennan was stride for stride with Tipp City Tippecanoe's Sam Wharton and Westerville North's Jacob Dumford.
That trio battled for the lead for most of the third mile, until Wharton pulled away a bit late and won in a blazing fast time of 15:09.95.
Dumford came in second in 15:17.61, while Brennan was third in 15:22.63, shattering his personal-record time.
"We just wanted to come down here to compete to the best our ability and have fun," Brennan said. "Mission accomplished."
Brennan turned out to be the only Warrior to earn All-Ohio honors, which are given to the top 25 finishers.
Senior Jordan Shepherd had hoped to join Brennan as an All-Ohioan, but he fell just a few strides short.
Shepherd finished 29th in 15:54.6.
The Division I boys race proved to be extremely fast, as the top 37 finishers all broke the 16-minute barrier.
Senior Cole Francetic finished in 74th place in 16:24.09, while senior Evan Freeman (93rd, 16:35.75) and junior Andy Hardwood (132nd, 17:04.60) rounded out the scoring runs.
Junior Nick Ondracek (137th, 17:13.43) and senior Will Nouse (146th, 17:50.47) also ran at states for Walsh.
With five of the his seven top runners graduating this spring, Ritchie acknowledged he's going to have some holes to fill.
"These guys have done a lot for us," Ritchie said. "During their time here, we've been three-time district champions and two-time region champions. They're going to be hard to replace."
FINISH 15TH AT STATES
On the girls side of Division I, Walsh finished in the same spot it did in the 2011 team race.
Walsh finished in 15th place with 310 points.
Mason dominated the Division I girls team race with 42 points, finishing a full 100 points ahead of runner-up Centerville.
What's more, the girls field had a very quick day: The top five runners all broke the 18-minute barrier and the top 47 runs finished below 19 minutes.
"It was crazy fast," said Walsh girls coach Rose Mathie. "We were just here to get some experience for next year and have some fun. Melinda getting All-Ohio was excellent."
Junior Melinda Renaurt did get All-Ohio honors, as she finished 21st in a time of 18:37.15.
Hopes were high that senior Moe Sinko -- the lone senior on Walsh's state team --also could earn All-Ohio honors, but Sinko finished 60th in 19:06.92.
Freshman Abbey Lenz (117th, 19:59.57), junior Abbey Cerroni (131st, 20:22.25) and sophomore Kelly Brennan (136th, 20:30.76) rounded out the scoring runs for Walsh.
Freshmen Katrina Heil (143rd, 20:57.34) and Pamela Karagiozis (150th, 21:47.51) also ran at states.