HEBRON — A subtle passing of the torch may have occurred at the state high school cross country championships on Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
With Beavercreek sophomore Taylor Ewert, a senior-less bunch of Golden Eagles girls and a pair of Cedarville freshman boys leading the way, a Greene County youth movement could well be underway in cross country running.
Ewert made her second appearance at the state meet a sweet one, placing third overall in the girls D-I race. She caught and passed Olentangy Liberty’s Gracie Sprankle just before the finish line, finishing in a time of 17:35.1 and nabbing valuable points for the Beavers team, which placed fifth overall.
“I am soooo happy! The second I finished (13th) last year, I knew that I wanted to come back and do better,” Ewert said. “I had been training so hard, and really trying to stay focused for this race. So to come out here and execute it, it’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”
‘Creek teammates Juliann Williams (26th), Jodie Pierce (36th), Kendall Hobbs, Bently Barrett and Molly Bernhard will all return next season. Only senior and multiple state qualifier Stephanie Pierce graduates from the team.
“I thought we ran well. We moved up during the race, like our plan was. We just missed some pockets here and there,” Beavercreek coach Howard Russ said. “But finishing fifth in the state is a good job. We’ve now finished in the top 5, six out of the last seven years.
“We’ll lose Stephanie, but this has really been her team this year. But our season is not over. We’re racing at the Nike event next week.”
Beavercreek will be competing in the Nike Cross Regionals Midwest event, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11-12 in Terre Haute, Ind. Teams from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri will be in the competition. The top-2 schools and top-5 individuals not on a qualifying club will advance to the national championship Dec. 2 in Portland, Ore.
Bellbrook’s senior-less girls team placed 12th in the Division II race. Led by Elise Kemper’s 55th-place finish (19:44.6), coach Jeanne Johnson says her young team of Kemper, Avarie Faulkner, Minami Ford, Cara Fine, Emily Pelfrey, Amira Faulkner and Kayla Paul is already looking forward to next season.
“I thought they ran a really good race,” Johnson said. “We only had one returner. That was Elise Kemper. The rest are all new, and some are new to the sport this year! … I’m really proud of this team, they are a bunch of hard workers. I cannot say enough about them.”
Cedarville’s boys freshman tandem of Ethan Wallis and Trent Koning placed 24th and 43rd respectively in their first experience before a huge National Trail Raceway crowd.
“Considering they are a pair of freshmen who had no clue as to what they were getting into, I thought that was a tremendous race,” Indians coach Chris Williams said. “They both ran smart, they didn’t go out too fast. I was very impressed.”
Carroll’s Karl Grossman ran his final cross country event, placing 53rd in the boys D-I event. Beavercreek junior Riley Buchholz placed 130th in the same race.
Legacy Christian veterans Isaac Erlundson and Tori Estepp also ran their final races. Both were making their third trip to National Trail Raceway for the championships. Erlundson placed 122nd in his final D-III boys race; Estepp was 82nd overall in the girls D-III event.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.