When the Perrysburg High School Cross Country team arrived at Whiteford Valley Golf Club the morning of the Northern Lakes League Championship, the team saw standing water all over the cross country course.
That is because in the 14 hours leading up to the meet, about an inch of rain fell in Metro Toledo.
"In my 28 years of coaching, that was the slowest course conditions we've ever run in," Perrysburg Head Coach Jon Monheim said.
Day-to-day, the league championship site is a footgolf course and the large cups on the greens to accommodate the footgolf soccer balls were drowning in water.
The Girls Open Race was the first race of the day and even with standing water all over the course, it proved to be the best opportunity for anyone to run close to fast that Saturday morning.
Sophomore Anna Dalton was the first of 10 straight Perrysburg harriers to cross the finish line in the open race. Dalton was the individual winner in the open race as she covered the 5-kilometer course in 21 minutes 44 seconds.
Junior captain Brooke Daudelin (22:12), sophomore Aubrey Evans (22:23), junior Ella Sibbersen (22:29), senior Hailey Lambdin (22:43), junior Sage Colon (22:44), freshman Laura Valette (23:00.5), junior Lydia Reiter (23:00.7), freshman Sophie Orlop (23:02) and senior Emmett Bohney (23:10) filled the remaining top ten spots in the race. Sophomore Aubrey Wyckoff (23:37) finished No. 12 overall.
"For two years in a row, to be that dominant in the Open Race shows how many talented runners we have in the program," Monheim said.
About an hour and two races later – with a much more muddy course because of the foot traffic – Perrysburg had its feet set on winning the program's fourth-straight league championship. Longtime Perrysburg High School assistant coach Eddie Osborne had the foresight to pack duct tape in his bag for the race so the harriers could use it on their spikes during the race.
"I think it helped keep (the spikes) on their feet," Osborne said. "Laces stretch when they get wet like that and they will come off. There were shoes laying on the course; I did see some."
The shoes on the feet of the Perrysburg athletes did stay on the entire way as the Girls Varsity Race quickly became an event of mental toughness, running through the mud for 3.1 miles.
"The course conditions were insane," senior Aubrey Duhaime said. "That was the first time I had fun running the course in a while. Yes it was muddy, yes it was dirty but I enjoyed running in it cause I was just running it to the best of my ability."
Ultimately, the course conditions forced times in the varsity race to be about two minutes slower than what those in the race would usually see on the clock at the finish line.
The Yellow Jackets prevailed with all seven harriers in the top ten overall. Perrysburg took four of the first five spots with senior Aubrey Duhaime leading the way with the overall first-place finish of 20:30. This was the second time for Duhaime to win the individual Northern Lakes League title as she also won during her freshman season in 2018.
"It is pretty special," Duhaime said. "It's definitely an emotional one too. I'm going to be really sad to leave this team because they're amazing. They are always so positive and I want to finish this year out strong."
Freshman Ava Beeks (21:07) finished second overall followed by sophomore Sydney Daudelin (21:26) and freshman Natalie Sanders (21:27). Sophomore Taylor Moody (21:54) was the fifth runner for Perrysburg in No. 8 overall as the Yellow Jackets scored a total of 18 points. Juniors AnnaSophia Gower (21:59) and captain Sophie Smith (22:17) rounded out the varsity group as they each finished No. 9 and 10 overall respectively.
For the first time in program history, Perrysburg won its fourth straight league title giving the Perrysburg High School Class of 2022 the distinction of never losing a Northern Lakes League Cross Country Championship.
"To be able to experience it four straight years is actually pretty cool," Duhaime said. "It is a great experience and I'm really grateful to say that. I think it just makes me more proud of my team and know how good we are to be able to compete at this level for four years."
Duhaime, Beeks, Sydney Daudelin and Sanders received First-Team All-Northern Lakes League Honors while Moody, Gower and Smith were on the All-Northern Lakes League Second Team.
Typically, many Perrysburg harriers in the Girls Open Race at the Northern Lakes League Cross Country Championship set season or lifetime personal records. That did not happen in 2021 due to the course conditions.
However, there were a handful of notable Perrysburg performances within 60 seconds of their season and/or lifetime personal best time. Those athletes include senior Sydney Rettig (:17), Orlop (:20), freshman Janet Gou (:39), junior Cameron Lindsey (:43), senior Ariana Gladieux (:45), freshman Sydney Evert (:54) and junior Ella Tafelski (:60).