For Oak Harbor junior Tyler Sievert, this fall turned into quite the season to run cross country, but he fell just inches short of one of his final goals.
After consistently finishing at or near the top of major invitationals for the duration of the season, Sievert nearly earned All-Ohio honors by finishing 34th with a time of 16 minutes, 55.43 seconds at the Division II state cross country meet.
Sievert finished lower than sixth just once, coming in 14th at the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival, one of the nation’s largest invitationals. In addition to winning the Cardinal Stritch Invite, Sievert was third at the Norm Bray Invite (17:17), fourth at the Lakota Invite and the Clay Eagle Invite, sixth at the Fostoria Invite and second at the Sandusky Bay Conference Meet. He consistently ran sub-17-minute times and set a school record with his best time of the season (16:13.23).
He also doubles as a soccer player, where he is second team Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press and second team All-Sandusky Bay Conference, leading the Rockets to a 16-1-1 season, SBC title, and Division II district runner-up finish.
In the cross country postseason, Sievert was fourth at districts and comfortably qualified for state with a 14th-place finish at regionals.
"I thought I had a pretty good season, especially for a junior,” Sievert said. “My goal was to make it to state and I was hoping to make it to the podium. I was seeded 36th, so I did a little bit better. Overall, I thought I ran a decent race. I thought it was a good experience."
Coach Eric Buckman, now in his 10th year at the helm, said, “He’s one of top-tier athletes I’ve coached (as far as) potential and athletic ability. I've been at it for 10 years and I've had quite a few runners make it regionals but I never had someone make it to state. He's definitely the best runner I’ve coached. The thing about Tyler is that he pushes himself so hard in practice every day. He's that kind of an athlete — it’s just the way he practices.
“He’s running those extra miles with soccer, too. His ability to be coached and just to push himself is something. And he's one of their top soccer players. You dream about having one athlete (like that). He's really athletic and has a lot of heart.”
For the past two seasons, Sievert has been the top runner on a team that has finished second in the SBC three consecutive times. He says faring that well in a deep conference like the SBC is a testament to the hard work and effort put forth by the runners, but also to the job Buckman has done with the club.
"He puts so much time in to help us as runners,” Sievert said of Buckman. “He has great workouts that he researches for us. He'll take us to a course for bigger meets and walk it (beforehand). He pushed us mentally and physically. Without him as coach, we probably wouldn't have done that well.”
As a team, the Rocket harriers finally got over the hump and qualified for regionals after coming up just short in the previous two years. Oak Harbor, behind the running of Sievert, Jake Wistinghausen, Bryce Buderer, Tim Poiry and Konnor Fletcher, finished fourth in a competitive district before coming in 12th at regionals.
Buckman credited Sievert and his four seniors, Michael LaFountain, Bryce Buderer, Tristan Epling and Quintin Babcock, with helping to provide steady leadership and guidance for the team.
“With Tyler, he's definitely the outspoken leader of the team,” Buckman said. “I consider my seniors to be my leaders, but (Tyler) is in the mode of the captain. He was always making sure the guys stretched before the races and he's a vocal leader; he's also the kind of kid that leads by example (and) he gets along well with the other kids.”
Buck says Sievert’s success stems from his work ethic and his constant involvement with sports. Besides competing in two sports during the fall, he competes with the Toledo Titans track team, members of the USATF National Junior Track & Field, during the summer. In fact, Sievert finished 10th in the 1500 and 15th in the 800 over the summer.
“You have to love (running),” Sievert said. “I’ve been running since fifth grade and I’ve always loved running long distance and that’s a huge part of this. And I take pride in my time and how the team performs. A lot of kids are stuck with a team that doesn’t push them or support them, but I don’t have to worry about that. I’m on a great team and it’s a positive atmosphere.”
Sievert also plays basketball and runs track, where he had much success last season. Sievert was first in the 800 meters (2:01.65) and second in the 1600 (4:34.49) at the SBC Meet. In fact, there’s a good shot that Sievert could letter in four sports this school year, a feat rarely accomplished by a high school athlete.