By Rob Kiser
HEBRON — Karmen Knepp put Bradford cross country on the map a year ago.
Saturday, she took it a few steps farther — on to the podium at the Division III girls state cross country meet.
The Lady Railroader sophomore finished 10th in 18:44.2 to earn All-Ohio honors and continue to raise the bar at Bradford.
“I was really happy with the race today,” Knepp said. “To be in the top 10 and be All-Ohio, it is a great feeling. I felt really good the whole race. That (getting on the podium and being All-Ohio) was definitely the goal.”
Knepp felt like she had some help in running her fastest time ever, after regional race where she wasn’t happy with her time despite finishing second.
“The weather was great today,” Knepp said. “And I definitely think that was a factor. I had a girl pushing me really hard and that helped me a lot.”
It all added up to accomplishing a goal she set for herself a year ago, after finishing 35th at state as a freshman.
“I was hoping to get up on the podium last year, but that probably was a stretch,” Knepp said. “I was the first one from Bradford to ever make it to the state meet — to be in the top 10 and make All-Ohio, that is a big deal (for Bradford).”
Bradford coach Bob Daugherty was ecstatic.
“I have to give our assistant coach a lot of credit,” he said. “He has been coming up with different things to do in practice to improve our times. Karmen (Knepp) went out and did everything I could have asked for. I can’t say enough about the race she ran.”
Especially, after the regional race last week.
“We were a little concerned (after the regional race), but she came back today and ran beautifully,” Daugherty said. “I mean she smashed her PR — by what 13 seconds — what more can you ask for than that.”
Knepp hopes it will motivate younger runners in Bradford.
“Definitely,” she said. “And we have a really strong group of junior high runner, so hopefully we can continue to build the program. I know I will have one of the top returning times (in the state in D-III) next year.”
And if she and the coaches have their way, she won’t be the only Bradford runner at state next year.
“Our junior high girls won the CCC,” Daugherty said. “We have some strong runners coming up. I told Karmen, this might be the last time she will have to run alone at state.”
That she will continue to raise the bar at Bradford is a given.
Buccs seventh, Raiders 14th
Covington took care of “business” Saturday.
The Lady Buccs were intent on improving on last year’s ninth place finish and they did that by finishing seventh as a team.
Anna Dunn capped an impressive four-year career with her fourth straight appearance at state, leading the Buccs with a 44th-place finish in 19:41.6. Paige Boehringer was right behind her is in 46th in 19:43.1.
Other Covington runners were Ashley Plessinger, 73, 20:23.4; Kelsey Dysinger, 115, 20:55.2; Danielle Alexander, 117, 20:58.2; and Emma Dammeyer, 155, 22:16.2.
Russia finished 14th, led by an impressive run by Megan Frazier.
Frazier smashed her PR with a time of 19:29.1 to finish 33rd.
Other Russia runners were Audrey Gariety, 100, 20:35.5; Claire Meyer, 105, 20:40.3; Anna Fiessinger, 121, 21:04.0; Shae Goubeaux, 130, 21:16.9; Becky Pinchot, 149, 21:59.4; and Clare Caldwell, 157, 22:23.2.
East duo cap careers
Two Miami East seniors wrapped up outstanding careers at the state meet.
Lorenza Savini had a top 30 finish, taking 27th in 19:18.0; while Marie Ewing accomplished the rare goal of running at state for the fourth straight year, taking 81st in 20:16.0.
O’Leary back at state
Lehman junior Alanna O’Leary made a return trip to state, after running at state as a freshman.
O’Leary took 92nd in 20:28.6.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.