By Rob Kiser
There is both tradition and history to be made for local runners when the state cross country meet will be held Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
The Division III girls race will kick things off at 11 a.m. and that race will have both for local runners.
The Russia girls bring the tradition, having finished fourth, seventh and third the last three years as a team.
They are ranked third in the state going in and look to continue that tradition.
“We are ranked third so I would lets go get third place,” Russia senior Lauren Heaton said after their regional championship performance last weekend at Troy.
Heaton, who has finished as high as 12th in the state meet (as a freshman), would like nothing more than to go out with another All-Ohio performance.
Both Heaton and Molly Kearns finished in the top 10 at the regional race, but Russia is solid all the way through.
Joining them will be Anna Fiessinger, Megan Frazier, Claire Meyer, Shae Goubeaux and Becky Pinchot.
The Covington girls head into state off a best-ever regional runnerup finish and are running at state as a team for the first time since 1999.
“I couldn’t even tell you the last time we ran at state as a team,” Covington senior Carly Shell said after the regional race. “It was a big goal.”
The Lady Buccs 14th that year and ninth in 1998 and are looking for their best team finish ever.
Shell leads the way. After finishing second in the regional in 19:26:14, Shell is the top local runner with the 16th fastest qualifying time.
The Lady Buccs are also a strong group.
Anna Dunn and Ashlyn Plessinger were both in the top 20 at regionals and are joined by Paige Boehringer, Kelsey Dysinger, Julianna Yingst and Danielle Alexander.
Miami East will make history no matter where they finish.
The Lady Vikings are the first team in school history to run at the state cross country meet.
They are led by Lorenza Savini, who was fifth at the regional in 19:39.61 and has the 21st fastest qualifying time.
Marie Ewing brings previous state meet experience and they will be joined by Lindsey Yingst, Emma DeWeese, Kaitlyn Mack, Sami Sands and Emily Hawkins.
The history doesn’t end there.
Bradford freshman Karmen Knepp will be competing at state after not running cross country before this year.
Knepp finished seventh at the regional.
“A friend talked me into running track in eighth grade and I broke the high school record for the 1,600,” Knepp said. “I figured I better run cross country.”
Lehman junior Jenna Zimmerman is back at state for the second time, after tendinitis stopped her from making it as a sophomore.
“I ran at the regional last year,” Zimmerman, who finished 12th last Saturday said. “But, I had nothing left (because of the tendinitis). State was the whole focus this year. I didn’t really think about districts or regionals.”
The boys D-III race will go off at 1:30 p.m.
Along with Newton senior regional champion Brady McBride (see accompanying story) two other local individuals will compete.
While Russia boys long streak of state meet appearances was cut short at the regional, senior Caleb Ball will make his fourth straight appearance at state after finishing fourth at the regional in 16:23.40.
Miami East freshman Gavin Horne hopes he will be able to say that as well and is off to a good start.
Horne advance by finishing 11th at the regional.
The boys D-II race is at 2:15 p.m. and Versailles will be represented by Joey Spitzer.
Despite moving from D-III to D-II this season, Spitzer set his goal to make it to state and accomplished that by finishing 12th at the regional race Saturday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.