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Trio of local runners headed to state cross-country meet

Manchester junior Ethan Pennywitt, right, cheered on by father Lonnie Bilyeu,  will become the first Greyhound in the school’s history to compete in the state cross-country meet this Saturday at National Trail Raceway.
Manchester junior Ethan Pennywitt, right, cheered on by father Lonnie Bilyeu, will become the first Greyhound in the school’s history to compete in the state cross-country meet this Saturday at National Trail Raceway.

Pennywitt will be first MHS runner in school history to compete at highest level –

By Mark Carpenter –
Photo by Michelle Bilyeu –

A record breaking season continued for a junior from Manchester while a local family’s running dynasty continued at last weekend’s regional cross-country meet, held at Pickerington North High School.  With trips to the state meet on the line, a trio of Adams Countians earned the right to advance and for one of them, it will be a historical moment for his school.
Continuing what has been beyond a memorable fall, Manchester junior Ethan Pennywitt will on Saturday become the first-ever runner wearing a Greyhound uniform to step to the start line of the OHSAA state cross-country meet.  Already with a number of school records safely tucked away, Pennywitt achieved another of his goals for the season with his performance at the Oct. 29 regional meet.
In a field of 135 runners in the Division III boys race, the top five teams and all other individuals in the top 20 earn the right to run at state and by virtue of placing 12th overall, Pennywitt earned his right to move on.  He finished the race in a time of 17:04.48, which is not as good as the school record that he set twice earlier this fall, but still good enough to reach the state goal.  Besides looking to find himself on the winner’s stand at the end of the race, Pennywitt has set a goal of breaking his school record again, this time on the biggest stage.
Manchester head coach Vic Bowman is retiring at the end of the season, and what better way to head off into the sunset than by taking the first runner in school history to the state meet.
“You could not have picked a more deserving or harder working runner to be the first Manchester runner to reach the state meet,” said Bowman.  “Ethan has been running with me since he was little and always told me that he was going to set the school record and was going to take me to the state meet.  Despite the setbacks he faced in his first two years of high school, he stayed focused on his goals and trained hard this summer to give himself a shot at reaching his goal this year.  I was dubious that he would be able to make it this year as a junior, but he never wavered in his determination and insistence that he would do it this year.”
“Ethan achieving his goal also enable me to reach one of my goals of making it to the state meet in cross-country for the first time in my 25 years at Manchester.  The only goal left for him is to try and lower his school record Saturday at National Trail.”
Pennywitt is not the only male runner from Adams County who will line up for the Division III boys race on Saturday as the Seas family’s running successes will continue when junior Matt Seas makes his appearance in the state meet.  Seas placed fifth in the regionals at Pickerington, finishing the race with a time of 16:33.42, earning the right to advance for the second consecutive season.
Matt will not be the only representative of the Seas family to appear at the start line on Saturday as younger sister and sophomore Jenny Seas also earned here second consecutive trip to state by finishing a very strong second in the Division III girls regional race with a time of 18:55.42.  Last year, Jenny placed 10th in the state cross-country meet and will be one of the heavy favorites to find her way to the medals podium at race’s end.
The Southern Hills Athletic Conference also has a regional cross-country champion team as the Fairfield Lions placed first in Division III, while Blake Rigdon of Eastern Brown qualified as an individual by finishing third at regionals.
The state cross-country meets will be held this Saturday, Nov. 5 at the National Trail Raceway on Hebron, Ohio.  The Division III Boys race begins at 11 a.m., while the Division III Girls race is set for 1:30 p.m.

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