After posting the program’s first state-qualifying team time in nearly 30 years at the regional tournament Oct. 27, members of the men’s cross country team made a memorial stop to pay tribute to a fallen Eagle at his final resting place.
Following CJ’s fourth place finish, seniors Matthaus Ayers and Will Bonner along with junior John Carper collected their teammates’ race bibs and headed to Calvary Cemetery to place their numbers at the grave of Lucas Pfander. A three-sport athlete, Lucas tragically passed before he could serve as cross country team captain during the fall of his senior year at CJ in 2008.
Visiting the south Dayton cemetery has become a tradition (along with running in the annual memorial alumni race bearing Lucas' name) for the men’s and women’s cross country program, both after big meets and during practices. The 4.2-mile round-trip run from CJ and back on Patterson Boulevard has not only strengthened the team spiritually, but has also been a key component of training during one of the most successful seasons for Eagle runners—as a whole—in recent memory.
For the first time since 1983, the men’s team qualified for the OHSAA state tournament and will run this Saturday, Nov. 3, in the final meet of the 2012 season. The Eagles – made up of Ayers (a regional medalist), Bonner, and Carper, plus senior Sam Wittman, juniors Conor Hickey and Ben Reis, and sophomore John Hawthorn – will compete against the top 16 teams and 38 individuals in Division II at the National Trail Raceway in Hebron. The race begins at 11:45 a.m.
Participating in the championship race seems a fitting end to a successful year in which the Eagles began to peak later in the fall postseason. The men finished second and third respectively at the October GCL North and southwest district races. Five individuals earned all-league honors.
CJ men's runners represent the school's third fall sports program to compete at state this fall. The women's golf team finished as runners-up and a women's tennis doubles team finished in third place in two earlier Division II tournaments.
The women’s cross country team finished the season by taking 10th at the regional meet.