Hoofing into History; Lantz Makes All-State Finish

Blythewood’s Mike Lantz (right) fights off his Lexington challenger on his way to a third-place finish in Saturday’s State cross country meet.

Saturday dawned sunny but cold at the State cross country meet at the Sandhills Research Center on the East side of Columbia. Only two area athletes qualified for the State meet, Ereck Lewis of Westwood High School and Mike Lantz of Blythewood High. While Lewis ran well for the first-year Redhawks’ program, it was Lantz who etched his name into Blythewood High School history.

The weather had warmed a bit by the time the Boys’ 4A race got under way. It was clear throughout the race that Lantz was in for a good finish. Never far from the lead, Lantz was always in the top five. Heading up the hill with 200 meters to go, Lantz was in fifth place, just behind the leading runners. By the finish, Lantz had caught and passed two runners ahead of him and finished on the podium in third place with a time of 15:41. The race winner was Tony Morales of Lexington High School in a time of 15:25.

“Mike (Lantz) has made a major impact on our program,” Blythewood head coach Patrick Kelly said. “He is an exceptionally hard worker and since the start of summer conditioning in June he has shown the team what it looks like to make the sacrifices necessary to excel in cross country.”

With his performance Lantz becomes the first All-State runner in school history. Kelly believes Lantz sets a good example for his teammates.

“He is a great leader and is always encouraging his teammates,” Kelly said.

Westwood’s Ereck Lewis (right) making up time in the Class 3A race.

Earlier in the day in the boys’ 3A race, Lewis, a sophomore at Westwood, finished 42nd out of 182 runners. Lewis’ time was 17:33, a creditable top-quarter finish for a school in its first year of existence. The race was won by Andrey Ivankovic of Daniel High in a time of 15:24

“He’s gone sub-18 minutes this year, so we’re hoping for a sub 17:30 finish today,” said Westwood’s head coach Brice Mann. “Our team has slowly gotten better throughout the season. We finished third in the region, and Ereck finished third in the region as well. Ereck is new here, his parents moved here from Germany. He spent a year at Blythewood High, but didn’t run there, so he’s new to cross-country.”

And Lewis finished only 3 seconds behind Mann’s hoped-for time.

Lucas Vance contributed to this story.

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