Botkins standout Chloe Flora has produced a senior season for the record books.
Flora, who has dominated nearly every race of the season, is considered a top tier runner in the state. She is a back-to-back winner of the regional meet, and this year she was a runaway winner, coming across the line 36 seconds before the next competitor. She also repeated as the league champ winning by an amazing 69 seconds this season.
“Chloe prepared so hard for this season. She had to be successful. When you prepare that hard, your mindset changes. Last year, her goal was wanting to stay with the leaders. This year, her goal was to run her own race which made others have to stay with her,” said Botkins coach Ryan Gutman.
Flora broke the school record of Jamie King, who won a state championship in high school and later placed ninth in the 1500 meters at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“To see Chloe beat her record three times during cross country and once during track is simply amazing. I will have to step back after the season to really put it all into prospective. I saw the two best runners in our history. What a blessing it has been,” said Gutman.
Like most years – and perhaps a little more so this year – the state championship features a deep pool of very talented runners.
“There are quite a few times this year under 19:00. She will be pushed, but I think she has what it takes to be in the front pack. Regardless of what happens, I know Chloe will give it every ounce of her being,” said Gutman.
The impact Flora has had on the program is tremendous and perhaps difficult to measure at this point.
“Chloe’s career might not be fully appreciated until years from now. When the younger kids who look up to her begin their running careers because of her, that’s when her impact will be fully appreciated,” said Gutman.
Russia, Minster girls
Another cross country season represents another outstanding season for the Russia girls. Head coach Doug Foster and his Lady Raiders roll into the state championship following an impressive 2015 tour which featured hardware throughout, including titles at the league, district, and regional meets.
Russia is well known as a state participant and has performed extremely well. Last year the Lady Raiders were third in the state and in 2013 finished seventh.
The Raiders have an excellent combination of both experience and youthful talent. The top two runners for Russia are seniors while the rest of their roster is comprised of underclassmen.
The standout seniors leading the way for the Raiders are Lauren Heaton and Molly Kearns. Both have been impact runners at the varsity level beginning their freshman year. In fact, both are four year first team all-county performers. Last weekend Lauren was sixth at the regional and Molly was ninth.
Freshman Anna Fiessinger runs in the three spot for Russia. She earned first-team all-county honors this year placing fourth overall. Anna was 21st last weekend at the regional meet. Sophomore Megan Frazier delivered an outstanding and timely performance last weekend and goes into the state meet with a little bit of momentum. Freshman Claire Meyer was a second team all-county performer (finishing eighth) and rounded out the scoring for the Raiders last weekend.
The Raider depth is so strong that their number six runner (Shae Goubeaux) and number seven runner (Becky Pinchot) finished ninth and 11th at the county meet to earn second team all-conference honors. Additionally, junior Audrey Gariety is a second team all-county performer after finishing 13th at the league meet. Gariety didn’t run at the regional meet.
The Lady Raiders will see some familiar faces on Saturday including Minster, who returns to the state meet after finishing fourth a season ago.
The Lady Wildcats of Minster dominated the regional in Tiffin last weekend. Amazingly, Minster placed its top five runners among the top 15 overall. A few weeks earlier at the MAC Championship, they recorded a perfect score, finishing with the top five runners.
Senior Kaci Bornhorst leads the way and finished fourth at the regional. Morgan Pohl was fourth, Madeline Magoto 10th, Margaret Meiring 12th, and Lisa Barlage 15th.
Minster comes into the state championship as the top ranked team according to the polls. The Wildcats finished fourth last year at the state championship and fifth in 2013.
Fort Loramie senior Rachel Schmitmeyer delivered a strong performance at the regional to punch her ticket to state. Her performance was all that more gratifying as she bounced back from tough breaks at the regional meets her junior year in both track and cross country. Rachel ran a tactful strategy-based race last weekend.
“To cap off her senior season by qualifying for the state meet is great. After being so disappointed for her in cross country and track during her junior year, it couldn’t have been any better unless the girls team had made it out too,” explained Loramie coach Dennis Prenger.