By Rob Kiser
TROY — The Covington girls cross country team made school history.
Bradford sophomore Karmen Knepp added to hers — and Miami East’s Lorenza Savini and Marie Ewing and Lehman’s Catholic’s Alanna O’Leary earned state berths as well.
Led by Anna Dunn’s fifth-place finish in 19:10.47, Covington won the team title with 84 points, edging out Fort Loramie who had 85. Russia was third with 101 to also advance as a team.
“This is amazing,” Dunn said about the regional title. “To come here with a chance to make school history and with all the support of the community and do it in my senior year. This is great. I have been to state as an individual and been there with a team. It is so much better going as a team. It is one final race. I will leave it all out there and see what I can do and what we can do as a team.”
Covington put four runners in the top 30 and five in the top 40 to win the team title.
Other Lady Bucc runners included Paige Boehringer, 17, 21:07.75; Ashlyn Plessinger, 26, 21:50.36; Kelsey Dysinger, 29, 21:59.29; Danielle Alexander, 40, 22:31.98; Chelsea Ford, 54, 23:17.08; and Emma Dammeyer, 64, 23:45.38.
“We really didn’t talk about the regional title that much,” Covington coach Josh Long said. “We talked about running like we can. Finish in the top four and we were going to state. This group is a very cohesive group. They really run well together and have done a great job all season.”
Russia runners places and times included Megan Frazier, 11, 20:40.21; Audrey Gariety, 21, 21:21.84; Shae Goubeaux, 28, 21:57.65; Claire Meyer, 30, 21:59.29; Becky Pinchot, 48, 22:57.0; and Clare Caldwell, 57, 23:24.04.
Knepp made history last year when she became the first Bradford cross country runner to make it to state.
Saturday, she raised the bar, by finishing second in 19:46.40. Catholic Central’s Addy Engel, who Knepp had beaten last week, won in 19:10.47.
“I am happy to be going to state,” Knepp said. “I wasn’t happy with my time today.”
She gave Engel credit.
“She (Addy Engel) just went out a lot faster today,” Knepp said. “I couldn’t stay with her. I am looking forward to running at state. I don’t really have any expectations. I just want to go out and run my best.”
Savini and Ewing will both finish their cross country careers at the state meet.
Savini led Miami East to an eighth-place finish, taking fourth in 19:57.91.
“I am happy with the race,” Savini said. “The goal was to get through this race and get to state. I want to run my best race at state.”
Ewing is going for the fourth straight year, grabbing in the 16th and final spot in 20:57.61.
“I started hurting and had to push myself at the end,” Ewing said. “This is four straight years of going to state. I am really proud of what I accomplished today.”
It was redemption for O’Leary, a Lehman junior.
After qualifying for state as a freshman, she missed out going to state as a sophomore.
She earned a state berth Saturday, finishing 15th in 20:48.0.
“Oh my gosh, yes,” O’Leary said about feeling some redemption. “Last year, I was sick, which just made it worse. I was so disappointed that I didn’t make it to state. My coaches and parents have stuck with me and really helped, which I am very appreciative of them for.”
On Saturday, O’Leary ran the race she wanted to run.
“I got off to a great start and my coaches were encouraging me,” O’Leary said. “I paced myself really well. I am just so happy right now. I will go to state and just see what I can do.”
Miami East’s other runners included Lindsey Yingst, 23, 21:37.49; Abby Bollinger, 87, 27:33.49; and Paige Blauvelt, 90, 28:47.45.
Newton junior Macy Flanary finished 24th in 21:39.44; while Lehman sophomore Maria Schmiesing finished 34th in 22:13.79.
Versailles finished ninth in the Division II girls race.
The Lady Tigers places and times were Kara Spitzer, 25, 21:06.14; Emma Peters, 41, 21:34.65; Hannah Bey, 54 21:55.60; Kenia McEldowney, 55, 22:02.32; Liz Watren, 60, 22:12.11; Brynna Blakeley, 61, 22:12.51; and Megan Rismiller, 69, 22:23.19.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.