TROY — When she started running in the seventh grade, it took Fort Loramie freshman Olivia Borchers about a year to start enjoying cross country. Even if she wouldn’t quite admit it.
“Mom made me start running,” Borchers said, smiling, “but I like it now. I did cross country for fun. It’s a fun sport.”
And it doesn’t get any better than this. Borchers finished third at the Division III regional cross country meet held on Troy’s flood plain and levee on Saturday to help the Redskins qualify as a team for next weekend’s state championships. The Redskins finished third overall to claim one of the four qualifying spots.
The Fort Loramie boys will join them at state after winning the D-III regional title behind a 1-2 finish from seniors Joe Ballas and Jake Rethman. Ballas won the regional title in 16:19.67 and Rethman followed in 16:24.08.
Ballas stuck to the plan that won him a district championship last week at Cedarville University. Running with Arcanum senior Tanner Delk, Ballas tucked behind Delk to let his competitor block the wind so Ballas could conserve energy. Rethman also utilized that strategy Saturday.
“It was a little windy on the flood plain. So our biggest strategy there was to tuck in when we could,” Rethman said. “Not too conservative, but just so someone else could take the wind. It gave us a little confidence going into the last mile on the levee.”
“All three of us are seniors so it’s really exciting to run with these guys,” Ballas said of Rethman and Delk. “You make a lot of good friendships and that’s awesome.”
Drafting might have been the difference during the final stretch on the 3.1-mile course as Ballas, Rethman and Delk sprinted to the finish.
“It was a pretty gutsy last mile,” Rethman said. “It was a really tough back and forth thing between us. It was just a battle. That last 800 was pretty all out. I’m happy with the results for sure. … It was a blast. It always is.”
In addition to Ballas and Rethman, freshman teammate Colten Gasson finished seventh, freshman Colin Gasson 30th, senior Gavin Schulze 39th, junior Jordan Drees 54th and freshman Evan Eilerman 70th.
Fort Loramie scored 60 points to beat runner-up Cincinnati Summit Country Day by eight points.
The Redskins qualified for state for the fourth straight season and 15th overall. The girls make their third straight trip and 17th overall.
“I’m excited. Both individually and team-wise it’s a toss up,” Ballas said of the Redskins’ chances at a state title. “There are so many people in the running. It’s just seeing what you can do that day.”
Joining Borchers on the girls team was sophomore Dani Eilerman (10th), junior Danielle Berning (11th), sophomore Caitlyn Gasson (24th), sophomore Corynn Heitkamp (28th), freshman Anna Detrick (29th) and freshman Claire Rethman (38th).
Houston senior Tristan Freistuhler finished 10th to qualify for state as an individual. Botkins freshman Collin Watterson finished 17th and missed advancing by 0.29 seconds. Botkins finished sixth as a team and Houston eighth.
In the girls D-III meet, Houston freshman Ava Knouff finished 14th, Botkins sophomore Emma Koenig 15th and Russia freshman Ella Hoehne 20th to qualify for state. In the team standings Botkins finished seventh and Russia eighth.
In the D-I meet, Sidney senior Gavin Bockrath finished 64th overall.
In D-II boys, Anna freshman Lucas Smith finished 17th and was 2.68 seconds away from qualifying. The Rockets finished 10th as a team. Sophomore Jacob Robinson (30th), freshman Collin Frilling (66th), junior Caleb Gaier (70th), freshman Hayden Schmidt ( 73rd), senior Colton Nanik (78th) and sophomore Nick Fry (86th) also competed.
Also in D-III girls, in addition to Koenig, sophomore Liza Aselage (37th), sophomore Kelsie Burmeister (39th), sophomore Arica Jutte (43rd), sophomore Jill Greve (56th), sophomore Makenna Maurer (61st) and senior Adriana Jutte (75th) also competed for Botkins.
Russia sophomore Becca Seger (30th), senior Claire Meyer (40th), senior Anna Fiessinger (46th), senior Emma Delaet (65th), junior Claire Caldwell (77th) and junior Sarah Pinchot (89th) also ran for the Raiders.
Anna freshman Kaylie Kipp finished 27th.
For the Botkins boys, sophomore Alan Fullenkamp (27th), junior Elliot Goubeaux (38th), sophomore Donovan Brown (57th), sophomore R.J. Poeppelman (68th), freshman Jameson Meyer (71st) and freshman Shane Weatherhead also ran.
Houston finishers included junior Blake Jacobs (31st), senior Ethan Knouff (41st), junior Patrick Meiring (63rd), freshman Ryan Ely (79th), junior Brennen Arnold (87th) and junior Joseph Earl (96th).