Call him the minuteman.
Actually, he's more of a 58-second man, but minuteman has a better ring to it and Columbian coach John Kihorany isn't one to nitpick right now.
Senior Brandon Gibson broke the 16-minute mark for the second time and trimmed nearly a minute off his time at last year's meet, clocking in ninth in 15:56.66 Saturday in the Division I-A race at the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival.
"He's a minute faster. He is exactly a minute faster at this point right now from where he was last year. At this meet he ran 16:54 as a first-year runner," Kihorany said. "Today he ran 15:56. As a measuring stick, he's one minute faster."
"That's a big piece to the puzzle right there. If you step up here and you're top 10 here, you're pretty much top 10 in this half of the state," he said. "That's what I believe. We have so many people coming from different areas. The kid that won it today (Chardon senior Nick Elswick, 15:12.9) is potentially your state champ. If you're nine places behind the state champ, the best in the state of Ohio, you measured up pretty well."
Gibson actually ended eight spots behind Saturday's winner, but, like his coach, he isn't one to argue the minutiae. He's just focused on moving forward and getting better, aiming for things such as a school record and return trip to the state meet in just his second year of running.
"I'm liking it a lot. My second race under 16 which is definitely doing me good, especially on the course we were running on. These hills just kill your time. So to go under 16 is quite an accomplishment," he said.
"I'm doing way better this year because I'm used to the racing, know what it's like to do everything and it's just a whole lot more fun now that I know," he said.
Two other TC runners came in under 17 minutes, with Tyler Lewis finishing 40th in 16:42.41 and Chris Gates taking 57th in 16:54.4.
Kyle Lange added a 210th (18:23.32) and Tyler Mesnard ended 247th (18:50.06) to help TC end 23rd (563) out of 41 teams.
"They ran very, very well on a very, very fast course today. This is just a measuring stick to see how the rest of the year goes. Most ran very, very well," Kihorany said. "We had a really hard workout on Thursday so that kind of carried over hopefully as a build up to today. The year's just going to continue going down this track I hope.
"In a meet like this, there's so many people in between each runner, of course as a coach and as athletes, everyone wants to move up a little bit more," he said. "I'd like them to be a little closer together as far as our 1-5 spread goes, but I think they know how they did and what they have to improve on and how well they did."
Division III Open
Seneca East wasn't the only area team to claim a title (see separate story) Saturday. Hopewell-Loudon captured the Division III Open crown by an 84-87 margin over Russia.
Dylan Napier sparked the title run by taking second in 18:22.85, while Nick Scaife added a ninth (19:08.02).
Garrett Hedrick finished 24th (20:09.43), Dylan Alvarado ran 28th (20:09.43) and Collin Shaver claimed 55th (21:11.45) for the champion Chieftains.
First-year coach Helen Coleman said the title was more the result of her runners minimizing risks while racing well, rather than having them follow a game plan to perfection.
"Really, at the Carnival, it's just 'hold your own, stay in the race' with a big race like that. You just really have to protect yourself and make sure you're not getting pushed around and stuff like that in the race," she said.
"We just talked about it's the biggest race of the year and there's going to be a lot of people that you're fighting for position with," Coleman said.
Seneca East ended 17th (398) out of 20 teams in the same race, led by Collin Gibbs' 56th (21:12.42) and Connor Caudill's 82nd (21:46.92).
While Seneca East's top group claimed the Division III-A title, Hopewell-Loudon's varsity finished 18th (543), Carey took 20th (565), Old Fort came in 24th (612) and Calvert ended 35th (962) in the 39-team field.
Chet Swartzmiller's 39th (17:30.13) led H-L, with Ryan Depinet taking 82nd (18:13.16).
"I was hoping for a top 20, that was kind of what we were aiming for, to be in the top 20 as a team," Coleman said.
"I think it means a lot to them. They'd like to have a great season, they've worked pretty hard for it," she said. "Top 20 was our goal and we accomplished that, so I'm sure they're going to be real happy with that."
Carey's Trevor Cook had the best finish of any non-Seneca East runner, crossing the line 11th out of 267 runners in 16:50.19.
"It gives me a great boost. Keeping up with the top 10 kids pushes me a ton more, to get all my physical and mental strength out of me," Cook said.
"I think having the big crowd pushed me a lot more. I just pushed a ton, push myself harder and harder every time I come out," he said. "Great competition. I love it."
Teammate Zach Logsdon added a 93rd (18:24.65) for the Blue Devils.
Old Fort's Brad Bannister took 62nd (17:52.71) and Tito Lopez claimed 108th (18:31.88).
Calvert got a 156th from John Brodman (19:12.54) and a 173rd from Ren Boehler (19:39.16).
Seneca East took 13th over Lakota on a tiebreaker in the Division III-B race after both ended with 426 points.
Garrick Manning captured 68th (19:29.23) for Seneca East and Brady McWilliams ended 78th (19:40.35).
Lakota got a 16th from Luke Baker (17:59.44) and a 44th from Caleb Tolento (18:51.3).
Mohawk turned back St. Wendelin 516-532 for 20th, Old Fort took 31st (828) and New Riegel ended 32nd (905).
Chris Koehler's 53rd (19:19.09) led Mohawk and Owen Lacey came in 102nd (19:57.67).
St. Wendelin's Nick DeHaven ran 23rd (18:18.16) and Jacob Sellers took 94th (19:54.05).
Caleb Welly finished 120th (20:17.03) for New Riegel and Ethan Nye ended 130th (20:27.15).
Jacob Clark's 95th (19:54.75) led Old Fort and Josh Kaltenbach took 185th (21:47.67).
Dominic Solis ran 33rd (17:25.32) to lead Upper Sandusky to 31st in the 44-team Division II race. Garrett Miller added a 75th (17:52.83) for the Rams (756).
Fostoria wound up 38th (1,101) behind Peter Nunez's 181st (19:20.2) and Aquiles Estrada's 194th (19:35.29).
Division II Open
Columbian's Tanner Schreiner had the area's best finish in the Division II open, crossing the line 46th (19:45.73).
Upper Sandusky got a 142nd from Carson Mengerink (22:14.6) and Fostoria's Hariket Bilodia took 219th (26:15.57).