HEBRON — The Shelby County and local area had their footprints all over the Division 3 State Cross Country Championships Saturday at National Trail Raceway.
Botkins senior Chloe Flora put the finishing touches on an amazing season with a fourth-place finish. The Minster girls captured state runner-up hardware and Russia finished sixth in the girls race.
Fort Loramie finished fifth overall, Anna sixth, Botkins 14th, and Minster 16th in the boys D-3 race.
In all, four county/area runners earned All-Ohio status by placing in the top 25.
Weather conditions were ideal – not always the case this time of year.
Senior sensation Chloe Flora delivered a gutsy performance in her final race in a Trojan cross-country uniform.
Flora had dominated the competion all year, coming into the D-III state cross country meet unbeaten. She knew things were going to be a lot more challenging at state, but she rose to the occasion. Flora improved from last year’s 13th-place finish, taking fourth in 18:29.3.
Flora said she didn’t approach her final high school cross country race any differently.
“I didn’t base it on the other runners or anything,” Flora said. “I just went with the flow. I ran faster at Anna. But I ran the best race I could have run.”
And she more than exceeded her goal.
“I worked really hard in the off-season,” she said. “After last year, I set a goal of finishing in the top five. So I exceeded that. I am really happy with what I did. It has been a really good season.”
And she won’t mind a little break.
“I am kind of glad it is over,” she said with a smile. “Now I take a little break and then get ready for track.”
Her coach was impressed with her performance.
“She ran a great race. She was leading after the first mile. I think she ran a perfect race. She gave herself a chance to win, which is all you can ask for,” said Botkins coach Ryan Gutman. “She gave every ounce that she had. She is a special runner and she left it all out there.”
In a field stacked with competition, Flora pushed the pace early, cruising through the first mile in 5:37. The first mile split put Flora at the front with about eight other runners within just a couple seconds of the lead. Flora continued to be a pace-setter as she went through the second mile at 11:34.
“She wanted to be in the mix right away. She said she just wanted to run her race and see where it got her. We practiced that the last couple of meets. It’s hard to say it didn’t work out because she got fourth in the state. She ran exactly what we practiced,” said Gutman.
Flora went on to finish fourth overall in 18:29 and had a large crowd from back home supporting her.
“Basically the entire junior high team came today to see her run and when that happens you know how special it is. For the next five years of running, they know what it takes to be considered one of the best. They wanted to see her run and they root for her like it seems everyone in the county rooted for Chloe because she is such a likeable person,” said Gutman.
Minster girls 2nd,
Russia places 6th
St. Thomas Aquinas (69) was crowned state champion in the girls Division 3 race. Locally, Minster (87) finished as state runner-up and Russia (186) finished sixth.
The Minster success was based heavily on the strong spread from their one to five runners. Just 36 seconds separated their number one runner and their fifth runner. Morgan Pohl paced the Wildcats with a 19:08 finish, and Margaret Meiring ran a 19:25. They were 13th and 25th, respectively, earning both All-Ohio status.
Kaci Bornhorst (19:39), Lisa Barlage (19:41), and Madeline Magoto (19:44) rounded out the scoring for Minster.
Russia was led by Lauren Heaton, who finished 28th in 19:31. Molly Kearns (19:48), Anna Fiessinger (20:16), Megan Frazier (20:35), Shae Goubeaux (20:54) represented the scoring five for the Raiders.
Boys: two County
Fort Loramie put the finishing touches on an impressive season by finishing fifth at state with 179. Jake Rethman was the top Redskin at 16:30 and Tom Ballas was close by at 16:39. Joe Ballas (17:06), Noah Siegel (17:19), and Alan Holdheide (18:09) wrapped up the scoring.
Rethman was 25th for All-Ohio honors.
Anna finished sixth with 195. The Rockets were once again led by Lucas Huber, who was the top county finisher in 16:29 for 23rd and All-Ohiop honors.
Tyler McKee (16:52), Joel Gaier (17:15), Bradley Axe (17:31), and Matthew Burden (18:02) were the first five Rockets in.
Botkins worked their way through the illness bug as a few of their runners were under the weather. The Trojans finished 15th. Senior Aaron Fullenkamp led the charge at 16:40. Cameron Flora, who was battling a high temperature ran a 17:57, Matthew Prout came in at 18:01, and Ryan Egbert (18:22), and Konnor Burmeister 18:28 completed the scoring.
Russia was represented by a strong race by Caleb Ball. The Raider standout, in his fourth state meet, ran a strong and consistent race to finish 27th overall in 16:31, just missing All-Ohio honors (top 25).
Minster finished 16th and was led by Ben Butler in 16:33. Carter Pohl was the second Wildcat runner in at 17:48.