OTTAWA — A cross-country leader with a powerful shot usually creates problems for the opposition.

That was on full display at Saturday’s Kalida Wildcat Invitational at the Kalida Fishing Club.

In the girls race, Ottawa-Glandorf senior Alexa Fortman stayed with Bryan’s Kate Thormeyer for most of the 5,000-meter race. Then, with about 800 meters to go, Fortman shifted into a higher gear and flashed the speed that earned her Division II wins in the 400 and 800 meters last spring as she pulled away to win the individual medley. best time 18 minutes 46.8 seconds on Saturday.

Tormeier finished second in 18:53.2. Fortman’s teammate Madelyn Houst was third (19:07.5).

Ottawa-Glandorf won the girls team title, beating Liberty Center 68-80. Patrick Henry (82), Liberty-Benton (142) and Lincolnview (171) round out the top five teams in the field of 18 full teams.

Rounding out the top five runners Saturday for OG were Olivia Fenberth (15th, 20:20.5), Corinne Clawson (25th, 20:34.2) and Rose Turnwald (30th, 20:54.3) .

Among the girls, 189 people finished.

OG head coach Holly Fluckiger said Fortman was focused on what she needed to do in Saturday’s race.

“I asked her, ‘How did it feel to be leading from behind?’ … It was a power move,” Fluckiger said. “I told her, ‘You don’t have to be up there (in the lead), but be there with them.’ I think she’s figuring it out. So hopefully she will continue to do that.

“She has that track (speed) — that push at the end. I told her it would be for her if she ran a smart race.”

Fortman said her strategy Saturday was to be smart and then pick the right moment to launch her shot.

“I was really trying to be patient in that race, trying to stay with her (Thormayer) and trying to push through the last 800 (meters) and give it everything I had,” Fortman said. “It really helps to run both the 800 and 400 on the track. … I think that’s a big advantage in cross country — and also knowing when to kick.”

Fluckiger is optimistic about how her girls team is progressing with the Western Buckeye League championship just two weeks away. The OG girls have never won a WBL cross country title. This year’s league meeting will be held at Memorial Park in Ottawa on October 15.

“They work together and push each other,” Fluckiger said. “We are starting to see it. They’re not going to let their teammates down.”

Houst, who also plays soccer in the fall, said she was pleased not only with her game Saturday, but with the entire team.

“It was a big PR,” Hovest said of her time on Saturday. “It was really nice to get out here and have a really good run.

“We have very tough competition here – a lot of people with very good times. But I think our team was really focused on doing well today. We worked really hard this week in practice.”

On the boys side, Bluffton senior Landon Armstrong let Bryan’s Xander Feckler pull him through most of Saturday’s race. Then, like Fortman, Armstrong showed off his speed, sprinting to the finish line for the win in 15:56. Fackler finished second in 16:02.8. Armstrong’s teammate Erik Nygaard was third (16:03.4). OG’s Ty Rosengarten was fourth (16:24.5). Among the young men, 142 people finished.

“I just followed him (Feckler) the whole race,” Armstrong said. “I tried to save, then hit. I don’t usually like to run a race. It was also a bit windy on the back. So I just sat next to him. Then, with about 800 (meters) left, I heard someone yell, “You’ve got 800 left.” … I’m an 800 runner. So I kicked it off. I slowly rejected him. Then I started giving everything I had. It was a pretty good race.”

At the Division III track meet last spring, Armstrong placed fourth in the 800 with a time of 1:55.22.

Columbus Grove edged Northwest Conference rival Lincolnview for the title, 95-98, in Saturday’s boys’ team standings. Ottawa-Glandorf (101), Bluffton (120) and Atsega (126) rounded out the top five teams. 18 full squads participated in the scoring team.

Leading the way for Columbus Grove on Saturday was Trent Koch with a ninth-place finish (16:46.2). Luke Ellerbrock was close behind in 12th (16:49.9). Other scorers for Columbus Grove included Bryce Boniface (15th, 17:05.6), Evan Pitts (23rd, 17:26.8) and Logan Mershman (36th, 18:03.3).

“I knew there were a lot of teams coming that it was going to be tough no matter what,” said longtime Columbus Grove boys head coach Terry Schnipke. “I knew we had to perform well to win.

“For me, there’s still too much of a gap between four and five (runners on the team) and then five and six. … We’ll work on it a little bit.”

Columbus Grove finished fourth in Division III state last season. With the regular season just weeks away, Schnipke is trying to get his team to peak at the right time.

“It’s always a fine balance for a coach between pushing them hard enough to get them in shape and not getting injured,” Schnipke said. “So I usually look on the side of caution and try to keep them healthy.”

Contact the Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.