Sistrunk leads Belpre to district title

RIO GRANDE, Ohio -Not only did Belpre High School’s boys cross country team win the Division 3 Southeast District championship here Saturday for the second year in a row, but the Golden Eagles also had a girl qualify for next Saturday’s regional meet at North Pickerington High School.

Led by sophomore Cray Sistrunk, who claimed the individual regional title in a time of 17 minutes and 23 seconds, Belpre’s boys dominated Saturday’s competition, placing three runners in the top five.

Junior Kyle Windland was third with a time of 17:55 and senior Matthew Davis fifth in 18:17. Also contributing to Belpre’s winning total were junior Matthew Lopreste, who placed 17th in 19:57 and senior Joel Starner who was 29th in 20:43. Senior Kenny Schultz was 44th in 21:06 and sophomore Hunter Burkey 55th in 23:04.

“Every one of our runners ran an outstanding race,” said coach Jim Cunningham. “They all bettered their times from last year.”

It’s been a trying season for the Belpre cross country team. Their No. 2 runner from a year ago elected not to return, the No. 5 runner from last year graduated and the team has been hit hard by injuries.

But the Golden Eagles seem to peaking at the right time. Although the competition at next year’s regional will be much stiffer than what Belpre faced Saturday, Cunningham believes the Eagles will be in the hunt for one of the four berths to the state meet.

Joining Belpre’s runners at the district meet will be Eli Strahler from Waterford, who finished second behind Sistrunk.

In the girls competition, Belpre senior Mackenzie Rice earned a spot in the regional with a 15th place finish, crossing the finish line at Rio Grande College in 23:28.

Although the weather was cool, Belpre’s runners were prepared for the conditions, including two hills that make the course particularly difficult.