Kevin Goheen reports:
Reaching a state-level competition is never easy. The four teams and any individuals that advance out of Saturday’s girls’ cross country regional meet in Troy will do so with an added badge of honor.
Four of the top five teams in the most recent Division I state coaches’ poll, led by No. 1 Mason, are in the field of 16 teams while area teams Sycamore (No. 9), Walnut Hills (12), St. Ursula (17) and Ursuline (19) are also ranked and will be among those battling for state berths.
It won’t be any easier for area athletes in Division II and III as each of those races will have six ranked teams toeing the starting line.
The top four teams and any individual in the top 16 not already on a qualifying team will advance to the state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceways in Hebron, east of Columbus.
Saturday’s 3.1-miles races at Troy Memorial Stadium alongside the Great Miami River begin with Division III at 1:30 p.m., Division II at 2:15 p.m. and Division I at 3 p.m.
St. Ursula sophomore Annie Heffernan, Sycamore senior Sam Siler, Mason senior Lauren Wood and Colerain senior Kristen Seiler all ran 18:20 or better at last week’s district meet at Mason. Heffernan’s 17:54 was the fastest time of the district meet. Lebanon junior Jacquelyn Crow won her district race in Dayton in 18:33.
Mason and Walnut Hills head into the regional meet with district team titles from last weekend.
Three Dayton-area teams make up the rest of the expected contenders. Beavercreek is ranked No. 2 in the state behind Mason, while Centerville is No. 3 and Springboro is ranked fifth.
Mason has won three straight regional titles and has been to eight straight state meets. The Comets have just one loss to a team from Ohio; that came against Division II’s No. 1-ranked Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at the Midwest Meet of Champions.
“We can’t take anything for granted,” said Wood. “You can’t just come out and run and expect things to happen. We have to work hard throughout races.”
In Division II, New Richmond and Indian Hill will be attempting to reach the state meet for the first time as teams against a field that includes four teams ranked in the top eight of the state poll.
New Richmond edged Indian Hill for the district team title last week, 67-68, to give the Lions their first trip to the regional meet as a team. Indian Hill missed a state berth by one place and 10 points last year.
Five of the top 10 district finishers last week were freshmen, including winner Hannah Winter of Batavia, Indian Hill’s Rhian Horton (fifth) and Claire Burns of New Richmond (seventh).
Summit Country Day was ranked 19th in last week’s Division III state poll and was impressive in winning the district title by 20 points over runner-up Mariemont. Senior Rhetta Maynard was second at the district meet behind Middletown Christian’s Becca Wheeler. Mariemont was led by freshman Maddie Renie’s fourth-place finish.
The Silver Knights placed their top five runners among the top 11 overall runners at the district meet but will have to contend with a regional field that includes top-ranked Minster as well as No. 5 Russia and No. 6 West Liberty Salem.