This has been quite the year for the sophomore from Whiteoak sophomore Landen Eyre, who finished a stellar season Saturday at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships with a fifth place finish in Division III.
“Eyre came into the season off a phenomenal summer of intense and focused workouts and never looked back,” Whiteoak coach Doug Hughes said.
Eyre jetted out and won the Pickerington Invitational with nearly 400 runners, won the Southeastern Invitational, Washington C.H. Invitational, two home meets, was Highland County champion, Southern Hills Athletic Conference champion, district champion and a regional runner up.
Saturday was the icing on the cake. Racing against 180 of the best Division III runners in the state, Eyre earned an incredible top five finish.
Hughes was on cloud nine after the race.
“He did it, he did it all year, every single practice and every single race. Worked his absolute tail off every day, every day,” Hughes said. “They say hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Well, he’s got elite talent and an even better work ethic so that’s the path to the top of the state.
”We at Whiteoak could not be any prouder of him. Great teammate, humble, great kid. I love when hard work and sacrifice pays off for kids — it sure paid off for Landen. In the race Eyre kept things in control the entire 3.16 mile race.
His first mile Saturday was at 4:52, which was faster than Eyre and Hughes had planned, but the race forced the matter and Eyre handled it and was in the lead cluster pack where he wanted to be. On mile two Eyre gained ground and worked up about seven spots to fifth place. He pushed the third and fourth place runners, but knew it was best to stay behind them going into the wind and up a big hill and that enabled him to be able to hold off the pack of runners right behind him.
“He finished strong and ran a perfect race. He was hoping for top eight to make the podium — and standing on it — 5th place was icing on the cake,” Hughes said.
Hughes finished with a time of 16:04.1.
The top 10 finishers were as follows: Brylan Holland, East Canton, 15:41.7; Luke Snyder, Rittman, 15:50.8; Landon Armstrong, Bluffton, 15:55.3; Erik Nygaard, Bluffton 15:59.2; Landen Eyre, Whiteoak, 16:04.1; Blake Rodgers, Belpre, 16:06.9; Dominic Pappagallo, Mineral Ridge, 16:07.3; Caleb Sultan, Cedarville, 16:15.1; Kaleb Nastari, United, 16:15.7; Will Baker, Mojnt Gilead, 16:16.9.
In Division II, Hillsboro’s Taylor Thoroman, just a freshman, finished 71st in a field of 178 runners in a time of 20:31.0.
Information for this story was provided by Doug Hughes, Whiteoak cross country coach.