Rocky River City Schools News Article

Run, River, run! Boys, girls finish 5th, 10th at state meet

RR Boys Cross Country

OBETZ, Ohio (Nov. 4, 2023) -- Rocky River's boys and girls teams closed out their fine 2023 seasons with superb performances at Saturday's DI Ohio Championships. The Pirate boys clocked a fifth-place finish; the River girls placed 10th.

The event just south of Columbus closed out a big season for both programs.

On Saturday, Simon Baum, Ben Buehrle, Henry Lange, Grant Preto, Jackson Rood, Ryan Stirm, Ruairi Zuercher were the seven shots fired from the Pirate cannon at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park. But, really that group ran as one ball of speed. Rapid. River. Speed.

Remarkably, Rocky River posted its 191-point team score with its five scorers coming across in a 25-second span -- taking 58th (Zuercher), 63rd (Preto), 68th (Lange), 83rd (Rood), and 100th (Stirm) place. On the clock, the lead edge of that swift Pirate sword was Zuercher, who crossed the wire in 16:17.01.

Between splits, the Buccaneers bolted past other runners just as they bolted into the River record book: Saturday's championship race marked the program's first as a DI program.

Massillon Jackson filed four top-50 finishes en route to registering a dominant 86-point score. No team was within 60 points of the champion Polar Bears. The individual title went to Westerville North High School's Ben Gabelman, who zipped over the course in a tidy 14:51.66.

Running for the Pirates on the girls side were Anna Buehrle, Brianna Chavez, Brooke Hogan, Lauren Lavelle, Grace Lavelle, Jane Rathbun, Katie Stirm. As a group, the Double-R posted a pair of top-quartile finishes en route to logging a team score of 261, which placed 10th in a field of 20 teams.  

River's scorers were Chavez (18th), Grace Lavelle (28th), Rathbun (61st), Buehrle (128th), and Stirm (153rd). Chavez led the effort by traversing the course in 18 minutes-and 34.84 seconds. The speedy senior was seven seconds faster than a year ago when she took 16th in the Buckeye State title race.

Overall, Rocky River's pace was a brisk one with late kick. Jane Rathbun, who passed 39 runners between the first and second miles, and Grace Lavelle (plus 19) were emblematic of the Pirates' overall move. Team scores through the opening mile had the River squad in 15th place.

The DI girls title was captured by Perrysburg (102 points), which edged Hilliard Davidson (124). The individual champ was Evelyn Prodoehl of Lakota West High School, who filed a final time of 17:23.77. Brianna Chavez and Grace Lavelle registered all-Ohio status with their respective placements.

Saturday's performances on the biggest stage in this state cap off a season for Rocky River that included highlights in the Aug. 26 Riverside Kickoff Classic (girls third place), Sept. 2 Mentor Cardinal Classic (boys third, girls third), Sept. 23 Strongsville Fleet Feet Invitational (BXC 3P), Oct. 7 Milt Place Cross Country Festival (BXC win), Oct. 14 Great Lakes Conference Championships (BXC win, GXC runner-up), Oct. 21 Northeast District Championships (BXC win, GXC RU), and Oct. 28 Region 1 Championships (BXC RU).

In the fall of 2023, Rocky River Cross Country went as far as you can go -- all the way to the wire in the Buckeye State meet. And they went just about as fast as you can go. It was a heck of a run.

by Skip Snow

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