BOARDMAN — After ending a 48-year drought last season, the Black River boys cross country team is making this state-qualifying stuff a habit.
For the second straight year, the Pirates finished second at the Division III Boardman regional on Saturday to advance to next weekend’s state meet.
They won’t be the only Lorain County team at state though. The Avon girls qualified for the first time since 1988 with a third-place finish out of eight qualifying teams in Division I.
The last time the Eagles qualified it was as a Division III school under veteran coach Jim Reynolds. The Eagles are the first Lorain County Division I girls team to qualify to state since Amherst in 2007.
Last year, the Black River boys finished second to No. 1-ranked East Canton, 37-92. Saturday it was No. 4-rated Maplewood that was just a little bit better than No. 7-ranked Black River, 80-98.
The Royster brothers, senior Wyatt and junior Dillon, led the Pirates as they have all season. Wyatt finished eighth out of 108 runners in a time of 17:06.0, while Dillon was 18th in 17:27.4.
While both were satisfied to be heading back to state, neither appeared happy with their individual efforts.
“It’s all right, but I just wished we could have won,” Wyatt said. “I’m not sure what happened exactly. I felt fine going into the finish. It just wasn’t our day. I wanted to win.”
“Not exactly what we wanted or what I wanted,” Dillon said. “I was about eight places behind of what I should have been. I really cramped up after the 2-mile. It’s just an excuse. I shouldn’t have been that far back.”
Senior Nick Newman (21st, 17:31.9), junior Nicholas Kostecki (30th, 17:52.6) and junior Christian Orgel (56th, 18:43.4) rounded out the Pirates’ top five.
“It’s a team effort. It’s not just one guy,” Black River coach Patrick Brean said. “But we talk about the team. You’re a domino. Each guy’s a domino. We go down together. The guys ran great. Back-to-back to state you can’t complain about that. I’m proud of them. Our big goal was win it. We came up short, but to be back to state and come home with a trophy is a special thing. We’re going to celebrate tonight and get back to work on Monday.”
The Avon girls fell back to No. 12 in last week’s Division I state poll after being No. 5 most of the season. The big poll drop was due to a fourth-place finish at the Elyria district Oct. 22 behind No. 3 Westlake, No. 8 Medina and unranked Revere.
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