By Rob Kiser
EDITOR’S NOTE: After this story ran in the paper, the cross country meet was postponed to Nov. 10, with the same time schedule. Skipp and Austy Miller will now be able to run at the state meet, giving Bradford a full team.
BRADFORD — Bradford cross country coach Rob Grillot prefers to look at the glass as half-full, if not filled to the rim.
While the Railroaders will be short two runners Saturday, they will be making their first ever appearance at the state cross country meet as a team when the girls D-III race at National Trail Raceway gets underway at 1:30 p.m.
Skipp Miller, who finished sixth at the regional 20:01.9 and Austy Miller, who finished 17th at the regional in 20:21.8, will not be running at state due to a prior commitment.
“The way I chooses to look at it is we want them (the five girls running) to all run PRs and take that momentum into next season,” he said. “We have them all (except Karmen Knepp) back and we hope to be back again next year.”
Knepp, who has battled and injury the last two seasons, was All-Ohio as a sophomore, finishing 10th.
She leads the group running Saturday, finishing ninth in 20:07.0.
“Karmen (Knepp) was able to lead the team to the state meet,” Grillot said. “I think that is what she wanted. For the team to be able to run at state.”
The other Railroaders and their finishes at regional are sophomore Olivia Daugherty, 44, 21:52.9; junior Mercedes Smith, 67, 22:48.9; freshman Jenna Shellabarger, 79, 24:00.1; and freshman Alexis Barhorst, 84, 24:30.5.
“I remember going over and watching Karmen (Knepp) run at state as a freshman and sophomore and thinking how cool that would be,” Daugherty said. “I don’t think it has (set in that they are running at state). I think I am looking at it as just another race.”
Smith said it is tough to comprehend running at the state meet.
“Not until all the number started coming in during the season that showed we could do it,” she said. “The community has been very supportive it. It is amazing to be running at state.”
They will have company in the girls D-III race.
Houston freshman Ava Knouff qualified by finishing 14th in 20:11.9.
Knouff has one thought for the state meet.
“Have fun,” she said. “It is not that I don’t care how I do. I do care. But, I just want to make sure I enjoy the experience.”
The Versailles girls team also will be running in the D-III girls race.
Places and times at the regionals were Versailles runners included sophomore Maria Mangen, 18, 20:23.5; freshman Madelyn Holzapfel, 25, 20:52.3; senior Kara Spitzer, 31, 21:11.6; senior Liz Watren, 33, 21:20.0; freshman Delaney Barga, 50, 22:05.9; sophomore Lauren Menke, 58, 22:20.9; and junior Emma Peters, 74, 23:17.4.
Knouff will be joined by Houston senior Tristan Freistuhler, who will run in the boys D-III race that kicks things off at 11 a.m.
He finished 10th in 16:44.0 at the regional.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.