CANTON - In cross country, you never know when it will be your turn.
Freshman Seth Zarlinga found himself out front as United's top runner Saturday in helping lead the Eagles to their first regional berth since 2008.
"I didn't expect to win, so I just ran," Zarlinga said.
The Eagles finished third in the team standings with 104 points, followed by South Range with 150.
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the Boardman regional next week.
At the Malone Invitational last month, Zarlinga was the Eagles' fourth runner. He ran more than two minutes faster on the same 3.1-mile course Saturday.
"I'm just happy I made it this far," Zarlinga said.
Tenth-ranked Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas dominated the Division III boys field at Malone University. The Knights had seven of the top 10 finishers to run away with the team title with 21 points. Rootstown was second with 71.
"I tried to keep them focused on Rootstown because you can't look at everyone," United coach Ken Beaumariage said.
United showed its depth Saturday with Columbiana County champion James Kataro struggling.
"This was a bad day for him," Beaumariage said. "He always has a bad day here. He did suck it up at the end."
Kataro finished 28th and never finished higher than 25th in his four years at the Malone district meet.
"We had a shot at Rootstown, but we needed him," Beaumariage said.
Also for the Eagles, junior Joe Kataro was 13th, junior Vincent Zehentbauer 15th, sophomore Zach Young 37th, senior Anthony Zarlinga 38th and senior Jacob Wolni 49th.
Rootstown senior William Morgan topped the 83-runner field in 17:08.
Leaders for South Range were sophomore in Ben Stebelton 14th, junior Garrett Anderson 17th, junior Jordan Roush 33rd, sophomore Brian Patrick 40th, junior Dillon McBee 53rd.
Marlington junior Ty Raybuck won the Division II race in 17:01.
Lake junior Jacob Kernell captured the Division?I?race in 16:14, the best time of the afternoon.