HEBRON — Amherst’s Josh Hill and Black River’s Russell Schultz know what it means to fight through the pain.
Both had impressive showings at Saturday’s state cross country championships at National Trail Raceway while doing just that.
Hill, a junior, finished seventh in Division I in a Lorain County-record time of 15 minutes, 34.7 seconds to earn All-Ohio honors (top 25) despite developing a side cramp, while Schultz, a senior, overcame an Achilles tendon strain to became the Pirates’ first three-time All-Ohio runner thanks to a 13th-place finish in 16:12.2 in Division II.
“I just wanted to catch as many people as I could before the race ended,” Hill said. “It started hurting the first half-mile of the race. It really affected my breathing and my stride, but I’m proud of that time. This course was very slow today. All that matters is place. I executed my plan. I feel I did well.”
Hill eclipsed the former county mark of 15:38 set by Firelands’ Mike Beetler at the 1982 Elyria Division II district meet. He also broke the 1982 school record of 15:47 set by Jeff Greene.
Hill barely missed All-Ohio last year as a sophomore, taking in 26th in 15:50.7, just five-tenths of a second out of the running.
“Josh paid meticulous attention to every detail of training this season,” Amherst coach Rob Glatz said.
“His hard work and fortitude was well-represented by his performance today.”
Hill was in 17th place at the mile mark in 4:52.6, then moved up to 11th by the second mile mark (10:03.4) to set the stage for his strong finish.
“It wasn’t hard,” Hill said. “It felt like a good pace. I’m very excited I did as well as I did. I was hoping for a top five but I’m happy I did as well as I did. I wanted the school record all season but I was running on such slow courses. Last year competing at state gave me a good idea about what I wanted to do. I waited maybe a little too long to close. I have Nike regionals next week in Indiana. I hope to run even faster there. I’m excited. It was a good season. I’m proud of it.”
Hill is Amherst’s first All-Ohio boys runner since Zach Wilburn was 15th in 2004 (16:13).
Lakota East’s Dustin Horter won the Division I boys race in 15:03.5, barely edging Middletown’s Conant Smith (15:03.9).
Schultz equaled his finish at state from a year ago when he clocked 16:05.1 under cooler, less muddy conditions. He was 21st at state as a sophomore.
“It was a tough race,” he said. “It’s the hardest race I’ve ever run before and I still didn’t PR. I felt like I was giving it my all. I was pushing myself and surging. It just didn’t go my way today. It is what it is. I can’t go back and change anything.”
Schultz was in third place at the mile mark (4:51.6), but dropped back to ninth through 2 miles (10:16.0).
Schultz slightly strained his Achilles during a workout Tuesday and was not 100 percent.
“I was sprinting at practice and I noticed it during my cool down,” Schultz said. “It just came out of nowhere. It was a little pain at first and then it grew worse.”
Buckeye Valley’s Zach Kreft defended his title in the Division II boys race with a time of 15:20.6. Lexington’s Ryan Johnston was second (15:41.9).
Contact Paul Heyse 329-7135 or email@example.com.