TROY — It was as simple as 1, 2, 3 … 22.
By the time the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Southwest Regional Cross Country championships had ended on Saturday, Oct. 27, the Greene County area had one individual regional champion, two regional team champs, three qualifying teams, and a total of 22 boys and girls representing four area schools who had reserved their spot in this week’s state championships.
In similar fashion as the previous week’s district meet, Beavercreek’s Taylor Ewert charged out to the front in the Division I girls race and was never challenged. The Beavercreek junior finished first with a time of 17 minutes, 11.42 seconds, slightly more than 31 seconds sooner than the next finisher.
Beavers teammates Savannah Roark (seventh overall), Juliann Williams (18th), Jodie Pierce, Kendall Hobbs, Bently Barrett and Emma Johnson ran strong as well to guide Beavercreek to its first regional title in more than 20 years.
“A regional title is a big deal,” said Beavercreek coach Howard Russ. “We haven’t won a regional title in at least 20 years. Since the ’90s, I think. We’ve been No. 1 in the state (polls), so I think we were supposed to win, but I knew we were in a tough regional, too. We worked hard for this. It was close.”
The Bellbrook girls team returned from Troy with the girls Division II team crown. In a 99-runner field, Golden Eagles runners Minami Ford (9th), Avarie Faulkner (10th) and Elise Kemper (11th), with teammates Amira Faulkner, Addie Hahn, Kayla Paul and Emily Pelfrey each placed within the field’s top 35 to claim the win.
Bellbrook girls coach Jeanne Johnson decided to turn the tables a bit at the regional meet. Rather than be the hunted, they became the hunter.
“The girls were confident running here, but they also knew they had to take care of business and do what they do best,” Johnson said. “We know that Tipp City (Tippecanoe) is a very good program, and we knew that they would be gunning for us. … So that’s who we went after. We knew their uniforms, their number, everything. We wanted to use them as our incentive.”
Tippecanoe finished second, 18 points back.
Each regional race covers 5,000 meters in distance, but 0.10 of a second was the difference between advancing to state, or not, in the boys Division I race. Beavercreek’s Riley Buchholz placed 22nd overall, just a tenth of a second behind a St. Xavier runner, and a Kings runner was between them just .07 behind in 21st, and only the St. X runner advanced on to this weekend’s state meet.
One area D-I runner, Grant Arnold of Carroll, did manage to place 16th in the boys race to advance. When asked to talk about his success, Arnold paused. He chose to honor his teammates and their season, instead.
“The team had a great season, and they ran hard all year long. There wasn’t much else ….” Arnold said, pausing again. “We ran our best today. It was a great season.”
The Cedarville boys team will also be making reservations for the state meet. Led by Ethan Wallis’s fifth-place finish the Indians, with runners Isaiah Estepp, Payton Herron, Ben Kinsinger, Trent Koning (12th), Drew Mason and Jeffrey Salisbury, placed fourth as a team to advance.
Despite placing fifth, Wallis said the race was a rough one.
“It wasn’t a good race at all. I felt pretty dizzy today. I just didn’t feel good at all,” he said. “Next week’s gonna be a whole lot better. I wasn’t my best today, but state will be a whole lot better.” Wallis said.
The OHSAA state cross country championships will once again take place Saturday, Nov. 3 at the famed National Trail Raceway drag strip in Hebron, just east of Columbus.
Cedarville will be in the day’s first of six races at 11 a.m., Arnold will race in the boys D-I race at 12:30 p.m., followed by Bellbrook’s D-II girls event at 2:30 p.m. and Beavercreek’s D-I girls race at 3 p.m.