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Old 11-29-18, 12:14 PM
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Lancermania Lancermania is offline
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Lakota boys, girls cross country won state in ’83

This story was wrotten by Mark Schmetzer as a Special to Cincinnati Enquirer USA TODAY NETWORK on November 29, 2018

Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country meets usually were run on the first Saturday in November during the early 1980s.

A conflict with an Ohio State University home football game forced the OHSAA to move the 1984 schedule up a week, to the last Saturday in October, creating a heightened sense of accomplishment for Jason Lindsey’s Lakota High School program.

The Thunderbirds not only won the 1983 Class AAA boys championship, they came back the next season and won the Class AAA girls title. Lakota became more than the first Ohio program to win both titles. They did it, as Lindsey proudly points out, in less than a calendar year.

“For 20 minutes or so, we had them both,” said Lindsey, now retired and living in Oxford.

Brian Hill finished second and Jim Hedrick sixth to lead the deep boys team to the 1983 championship by a 120-127 score over Stow Walsh Jesuit, Lakota’s first team state championship in any sport. Joe Welling finished 20th, Greg Crecilius 31st and his twin Steve Crecilius 61st to complete the Thunderbirds’ scoring. No. 6 runner Greg Woodruff finished 70th.

“The key to that team was depth,” Lindsey recalled. “If we had had to go to the sixth man scoring to win state, we still would’ve won. We had two first-team all-staters. We were very solid with our 3-4-5 runners.”

Michelle Winterer finished second and exchange student Naoko Morikawa fifth to set the Lakota pace in the 1984 girls’ 135-148 win over Toledo DeVilriss. Robin Sudbrook finished 38th, Tonya Ruth 44th and Theresa Curry 46th in the girls race. Karen Geiss came in 51st.

“Tonya Ruth was a sophomore,” Lindsey said. “She’d never been in the top five prior to that. She used to run with the seventh-place girls. She just figured she wasn’t as good as the other girls. We told her we needed her to go out and run four, five or six. She had to be in position right from the start. I had a picture of one of the kid’s parents had taken toward the start, and she was right up there.

“The boys team was close. They all lived within a mile of each other, and two of them were twin brothers. They were all 17-18 years old. They would get up and go on morning runs.

“The girls team was a little bit different. Our third runner was just a freshman.”

The boys bounced back from not finishing among the top 20 teams at the 1982 state meet, despite putting together a solid regular season, and then finishing second behind defending state-champion Elder in the 1983 district meet – the era’s equivalent of what now is the regional meet.

“Brian had an inflamed hip, so he ran a little easier in the district meet,” Lindsey said. “Greg Crecelius got hurt in (physical education).

“We knew we had the potential. Joe and Brian both had sore legs, and they never completely healed after coming back too soon. When we practiced, we tried to keep them off hills. Brian actually pushed Joe to train a lot harder.”

The girls team, after finishing sixth in 1983, got a boost from the addition of Morikawa, who was staying with the school’s choral director’s family.

“They came to me and said she’d never been involved in athletics, and that they’d like to get her in touch with Michelle so she would at least know somebody,” Lindsey said. “When she finally got to us, she went from 24th to 10th and was up to third or fourth by the (Greater Miami Conference) meet. “Before one meet, she wouldn’t get off the bus,” he added. “She’d gotten a letter from her sister and she was homesick. I said, ‘Let me go talk to her.’ I told her, ‘We can’t win state without you.’ Her eyes got huge.”

While the boys were warming down, the girls decorated the bus to honor their championship, but they never lost sight of their own ultimate goal.

“Theresa Curry said to me, ‘We’re going to get the big trophy next year,’ ” Lindsey said. “I said, ‘OK, Theresa.’
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Old 11-29-18, 04:39 PM
JAVMAN83 JAVMAN83 is offline
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Very good article. I remember those teams as I'm just a year older (graduation year) than that 83-84 Class. Jason was a very good coach & motivator. Congrats to him and all those great athletes.
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