Columbus Grove’s Alyssa Ellerbrock runs well ahead of the pack during the Gray Division race of the Columbus Grove Invitational on Aug. 31. Ellerbrock will be looking to win her third Northwest Conference title at Saturday’s NWC championship. (Photo by Michael Burwell)

Area League CC Capsules

Blanchard Valley Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Owens Community College’s Findlay campus.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity boys 9 a.m., varsity girls 9:40 a.m., combined middle school race 10:20 a.m., elementary fun run 10:50 a.m.

ADMISSION: $6 adults, $4 students.

2019 CHAMPS: Hopewell-Loudon boys and girls.

WHAT TO WATCH: There will be a changing of the guard in the Blanchard Valley Conference this season. Hopewell-Loudon, which swept both the boys and girls team crowns a year ago, has moved to the Sandusky Bay Conference, which opens the door for a new league champion in 2019.

In the boys meet, Liberty-Benton would appear to be the favorite among the seven schools fielding teams this season. In fact, the Eagles’ Tyler Knestrick and Elliott Veenstra are the only all-BVC first teamers back this season.

Two other runners that will be trying to finish at the front of the field include Riverdale’s Eli Weber and Leipsic’s Alex Hernandez, who have both had solid campaigns.

Van Buren has put together a solid season with just a handful of runners and could win the school’s first league cross country crown.

The Black Knights’ Justine Hunt and Ella Webster are ranked among the top 10 in the Courier’s Top 25 Cross Country Honor Roll. Teammate Megan Pisarsky is also a returning first team all-BVC performer.

Liberty-Benton, which has four runners in the area top 25, could challenge the Black Knights.

Leipsic’s Lola Wensink edged Riverdale’s Juleigha Collier for last year’s girls individual crown. Both runners return. Wensink, though, has missed most of the season with a stress fracture but is expected to return to action Saturday.

Three Rivers Athletic Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Lima’s Faurot Park.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity girls 9 a.m., varsity boys 9:30 a.m., open girls 10 a.m., open boys 10:40 a.m., junior high girls 11:45 a.m., junior high boys 12:15 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Toledo Notre Dame girls; Toledo Whitmer boys.

WHAT TO WATCH: It will take a total team effort, and perhaps their best race of the season collectively, as Findlay High School’s girls try to knock off a Toledo Notre Dame team looking to win the TRAC for the fifth straight year.

The Trojans have finished third in the girls race the past two years. Amanda Tremains was sixth individually last season. She returns along with Karlee Dittman and Allie Ernst, who recorded top-15 TRAC finishes as freshmen.

Greg Konecny, Luke Reuille and Cole Sprague are returning all-league runners for the Trojans’ boys team.

Northern 10 Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Seneca East High School.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity boys 10 a.m., varsity girls 10:40 a.m., junior high boys 11:20 a.m., junior high girls 11:50 a.m.

ADMISSION: $5 per vehicle.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Colonel Crawford boys, Seneca East girls.

WHAT TO WATCH: Upper Sandusky was second in both the boys and girls races a year ago and will be looking to challenge for this year’s crown.

Carey sophomore returning all-Ohioan Sarah Reinhart is the defending girls champ. If Reinhart makes it back-to-back crowns, it will mean a Blue Devil runner has won the race in five of the six years the league has existed. Carey’s Destiny DeFeo won the race from 2014-16.

Northern Buckeye Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Genoa High School.

RACE SCHEDULE: Junior high girls 10 a.m., varsity girls 10:40 a.m., junior high boys 11:20 a.m., varsity boys noon.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Genoa boys, Woodmore girls.

WHAT TO WATCH: Fostoria doesn’t have enough runners to qualify for team scoring in the girls meet, but the Redmen may have the top area runner in the meet in Haili O’Neal. She netted second-team all-NBC honors a year ago and could push for a spot on the first team. Nina Zibbel is a runner to watch for Elmwood’s girls team.

Elmwood’s Bryce Reynolds should lead area runners across the finish line in the boys race.

Northwest Central Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Bryan Putnam Memorial Wetlands near Roundhead.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity girls 9:30 a.m., varsity boys 10:15 a.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Marion Elgin boys, Sidney Lehman girls.

WHAT TO WATCH: Hardin Northern’s boys were second in last year’s league meet, while the girls finished third.

Sophomore Aiden Gatchell has put together a solid season as the Polar Bears’ No. 1 runner on the boys team and should be a threat to finish in the top five.

Freshman Lola Duncan (11th place) and senior Kara Pugh (20th) posted top 20 finishes for Hardin Northern’s girls team at the Kenton Invitational last week.

Northwest Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Van Wert Reservoir.

ADMISSION: $3 per car.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity girls 9:30 a.m., junior high girls 10 a.m., varsity boys 10:30 a.m., junior high boys 11 a.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Columbus Grove boys and girls.

WHAT TO WATCH: Columbus Grove’s girls team will be heavy favorites to win its fourth straight NWC championship and sixth conference crown overall Saturday in Van Wert.

Grove senior Alyssa Ellerbrock will be trying to win the girls individual crown for the third straight year. She was third in the conference as a freshman.

The Bulldogs will bid to make it back-to-back boys crowns and a conference-leading 15th NWC boys cross country championship. Grove sophomores Caleb Stechschulte and Carson Closson have given the Bulldogs a solid 1-2 punch. They are ranked second and fifth, respectively, in the latest Courier Top 25 Cross Country Honor Roll.

Northwest Ohio Athletic League Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Bryan City Park.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity girls 10 a.m., varsity boys 10:40 a.m., junior high girls 11:20 a.m., junior high boys noon.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Liberty Center boys, Archbold girls.

WHAT TO WATCH: Patrick Henry’s boys and girls teams will be looking to climb the ladder after placing seventh and sixth respectively in the league meet in 2018.

The Patriots are coming off their best meet of the year last week, when they set a handful of PRs at the Springfield Invitational.

Patrick Henry senior Brett Sugg was 11th in the NWOAL boys race last season. In the girls meet, PH freshman Madison Prigge and junior Emma Carpenter are among the area’s top 25 this season and could also both finish in the top 10 on Saturday.

Sandusky Bay Conference Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Tiffin’s Hedges Boyer Park.

RACE SCHEDULE: Junior high boys 9 a.m., junior high girls 10 a.m., River Division boys 10:40 a.m., River Division girls 11:20 a.m., Bay Division boys noon, Bay Division girls 12:40 p.m., Lake Division boys 1:20 p.m. Lake Division girls 2 p.m.

ADMISSION: $5 per car.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: River Division (Gibsonburg girls, Sandusky St. Mary boys); Bay Division (Edison boys and girls); Lake Division (Tiffin Columbian girls, Norwalk boys).

WHAT TO WATCH: Hopewell-Loudon will make an immediate impact as a newcomer to the league in the River Division. The H-L boys and girls both won crowns in the Blanchard Valley Conference last season.

H-L’s boys will be heavy favorites in the boys meet with standouts Jordan Foster, Trey Masterson and Carter Ritchey leading the way.

In the girls race, Lakota junior Reilly Cozette is looking to win her third straight SBC River Division crown. Hopewell-Loudon is a deep team and will look to unseat defending champion Gibsonburg.

Western Buckeye League Championship

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at Defiance High School.

RACE SCHEDULE: Varsity girls 10 a.m., varsity boys 10:45 a.m., junior high girls 11:30 a.m., junior high boys noon.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Defiance girls and boys.

WHAT TO WATCH: It will be the 50th boys and 35th girls meet for the WBL this season. Ottawa-Glandorf’s boys finished fourth and the Titans’ girls squad was ninth a year ago.

Seniors Kamron Maag and Parker Schomaeker have been very good for the Titans this season. Both were honorable mention all-league a year ago.

Add in two more solid runners in Max Buddelmeyer and Hunter Stechschulte and a top three finish could be within reach for the Titans.

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