HEBRON - Successful cross country runners are never satisfied.
"I'm just really frustrated," said South Range senior Tim Nichols, who finished 12th in the Division III state cross country meet in becoming the first Raider boy to stand on the podium three years.
Senior Nate Boyer also had tears in his eyes after placing 16th in Division II - the highest finish ever by an East Liverpool boy.
East Liverpool senior Nate Boyer (center) begins the Division II cross country race on Saturday in Hebron, Ohio. (Photo courtesy of Lee Kotfis)
"I wanted it to be the best race of my life," Boyer said. "If you're not on top, it's not the best race of your life."
West Branch senior Drake Lohnes had his worst showing at state in three years, placing 42nd in Division II.
"It was a poor performance," Lohnes said. "I don't know why. I didn't run well and didn't perform well."
Even with the rain from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy this week, the course and parking lots held up.
"The course was in decent shape," Boyer said. "It had a little wear and tear from the race before."
Boyer was 10 seconds off his personal best of 16:01.
"You really can't compare courses," Thornberry said. "That's why we emphasis place over time in cross country."
It is the third state appearance for all three area standouts and they know it is all part of the game for distance runners.
"Anything can happen in this type of race," East Liverpool coach Scott Thornberry said. "At this level of competition, in any sport, the average person doesn't know what you are facing."
Boyer grabbed the 16th and final spot on the podium in Division II, completing the 3.1-mile course at National Trail Raceway in 16 minutes, 11 seconds.
He was in better spirits after stepping off the podium with a medal.
"A little bit," Boyer said.
"I could sense it was harder on him because there were people up there he's beat," Thornberry said.
Boyer was in seventh place after the opening mile before slipping back.
"I think I got trapped behind (at the start) a little bit," Boyer said. "I wanted to try to draft off the leaders and save something to try to catch them.
"I usually take it to them and they took it to me today."
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Mick Iacofano topped the 150-runner field in 15:32, knocking over a minute off his 23rd-place time last year. Defiance senior Abel Flores was the runner-up for the second straight year.
"Everyone was on top of their game today," Boyer said. "Everyone had the same game plan."
The previous best finish by an East Liverpool boy was by Mark Montgomery, who was 39th in Division I in 2002.
"He'll understand that more later on," Thornberry said.
Boyer said Saturday's race will motivate him during track season.
"I'll be back and I'll attack harder," Boyer said.
Lohnes, who nipped Boyer to win the Boardman regional meet last weekend, was 42nd in 16:37.
"I'm happy made it here, but I didn't perform today," Lohnes said. "It's pretty disappointing."
He never was able to get close to the front.
"Warming up, I kept telling myself, 'I'm fine. This is what I've put all the time this week training for,'" Lohnes said. "The start didn't go well. It didn't happen today.
"I didn't want it to end like this, but it did."
Like the others, Nichols is one of the top runners to come out of his school. He placed 12th out of 143 Division III boys runners on Saturday in 16:04, his best time in three state appearances.
"I wasn't happy with it," he said. "I had a really bad start and got boxed in."
Nichols was 11th as a junior and 15th as a sophomore.
Versailles senior Samuel Prakel repeated as the Division III state champion in 15:16, finishing 4 seconds ahead of Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas senior Cory Glines.