OBETZ – Minster junior Maggie Hemmelgarn knew she might have a long road for recovery, after she suffered a stress fracture at last year’s state track meet.
In 2021, as a sophomore, Hemmelgarn helped lead Minster to a Division III state cross country title, when she placed third overall in 18 minutes, 23.1 seconds on the 5,000-meter course at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park in Obetz.
However, despite not being able to race this fall until the Midwest Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 15, Hemmelgarn led Minster to its second consecutive Division III state title Saturday at the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s cross country state championship meet at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park.
At Saturday’s Division III race, Hemmelgarn placed 17th in 19:06.3 to lead Minster to another state title; it’s the 15th in program history.
The top 30 placers in each race on Saturday earned all-Ohio status.
“It’s incredible,” an elated Hemmelgarn said after Saturday’s race. “At the beginning of the year, I had a stress fracture. So, I didn’t know if I was going to make it down here. So, I was grateful for every opportunity to run with the team. … It’s an incredible feeling.
“It’s been a little bit of a struggle with getting back to racing at the end (of the regular season). It feels good; and I’m grateful to be able to run.”
Longtime Minster girls head coach Jessie Magoto said Hemmelgarn’s season was in question for quite a while.
“She was only allowed to step on land in August,” Magoto said. “Her first race was our league race. So, there was no training plan for how it went toward the end. We had no idea, week to week (on her future). But she is tough as nails. It’s just unbelievable at what she has done.”
Minster successfully defended its title Saturday, outscoring second-place Fort Loramie, 63-119. Colonel Crawford (164), West Liberty-Salem (183) and Liberty Center (184) rounded out the top five squads in the 20-team field.
Rounding out the rest of Minster’s runners Saturday were Taylor Roth (18th, 19:10.8), Chaney Cedarleaf (23rd, 19:26.2), Maria Niekamp (27th, 19:39.2), Annie Hemmelgarn (39th, 19:59), Morgan Ketner (60th, 20:21.2) and Ava Stammen (87th, 21:03.3).
Roth, one of two seniors for Minster, said this season’s state championship was extra special. Roth was part of three state cross country championships during her high school career. This past spring’s state track-and-field meet, Roth won the Division III state title in the 800 meters.
“Being a senior, it’s a little more meaningful. … It’s meaningful every year, but with me being a senior, this is the last one for me,” an emotional Roth said.
Added Magoto, “The goal was to leave it all out there. I just told them that no matter what, that it is going to be OK. … I’m so proud of these girls.”
Anna junior Paige Steinke won Saturday’s girls Division III race in 17:46.1. Last season, Steinke placed 49th (19:51.3) at the state meet.
“I can’t believe it. … I’m just lost on words,” Steinke said. “I’m just really thankful for what I have. You just can’t take anything for granted. I just didn’t think I could do it. I was hoping to get on the podium, or maybe top five.”
Fort Loramie junior Camille Borchers led the squad by finishing ninth in 18:41. Lauren Moore finished 36th in 19:52, Harley Eilerman finished 43rd in 20:02, Colleen Borchers finished 48th in 20:09.2 and Ariel Heitkamp finished 69th in 20:36.
Botkins sophomore Alaina Mann finished 12th in 18:52 while junior Brittany Arnold finished 20th in 19:12.
Botkins boys finish 4th
Botkins’ boys squad finished fourth in the Div. III state cross country race on Saturday in Obetz.
Senior Keaton Schnippel led the Trojans by finishing 41st in 16:53. Parker Schnippel finished 49th in 17:03, Carson Brown finished 70th in 17:18, Collin Doseck finished 74th in 17:22 and Carter Pleiman finished 80th in 17:25.6.
Anna junior John Young finished 42nd in 16:54. Fort Loramie’s Adam Ballas finished 60th in 17:12.2. Minster’s Jack Grieshop finished 84th in 17:28.
Sidney Daily News sports editor Bryant Billing contributed to this report. Billing can be reached at [email protected]