The Beavercreek High School girls cross country team won its second straight Division I state championship Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer
Photo: Contributing Writer

Back-to-back: Ewert, ‘Creek girls repeat as Division I state champions

Minster wins fourth straight D-III girls title

Beavercreek placed four girls among the top 10 finishers – highlighted by Ewert’s second straight individual victory – to repeat as Division I team state champions.

Ewert dominated the 3.1-mile course at National Trail Raceway in 17 minutes, 22.4 seconds. She beat the record of 17:28.6 established by Hillard Davidson’s India Johnson in 2016. Senior Savannah Roark was second (17:48.6), senior Jodi Pierce was seventh (18:03) and junior Juliann Williams finished ninth (18:12).

As far as ‘Creek coach Howard Russ could find that’s the first time a D-I school had four top-10 finishers. He said it’s also the first time a D-I program went 1-2.

“The girls had that as a goal coming in. They believed it was possible,” Russ said. “Their workouts are amazing. I always tell the girls workouts never lie.”

There was some distortion of the truth, though. A coach from another program walked past Ewert and said to a companion in reverence, “She’s a machine.”

Beavercreek High School senior Taylor Ewert won her second straight Division I state title Saturday in a course-record time at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

Well, he wasn’t totally wrong. Ewert’s victory seemed virtually automatic considering her 25.8 second victory last year in 17:38.7. She won by 26.6 seconds on Saturday.

“You have to approach the line as everyone is equal and you never know (what can happen),” Ewert said of taking nothing for granted.

“It’s a weight being lifted off my shoulders coming back as the defending champion. There’s always a little pressure there. I love racing. I just really wanted to take it in the last 1,000 meters and be grateful to be out here and be healthy.”

Senior Kendall Hobbs (55th) and sophomores Grace Dailey (118th) and Sam Thomas (154th) helped Beavercreek score 51 points to top runner-up Lakota East’s 121.

“I know people were like ‘we want to beat Beavercreek,’” Hobbs said. “ … We try to hold ourselves to a high standard. Coming back we were hoping to win again.”

Beavercreek, ranked No. 3 in the nation by both Milesplit and Dyestat, has qualified for state nine straight seasons. They’ve accumulated two titles, two runner-up finishes, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth. To get his team ready this season Howard took the Beavers to big meets in Indiana, Michigan and New York.

“It means a lot to come out here and win as an individual and to also win and be part of a team,” Ewert said. “It’s incredible. It means the world to me and it’s really motivating, especially when we go to other races and we’re representing Ohio.”

“It felt like a normal kind of meet for us,” Howard said. “Southwest Ohio is a hotbed for running. … I think we all keep pushing each other.”

In D-II, Oakwood came one runner shy of duplicating Beavercreek’s top-10 finish behind sophomore Grace Hartman (second), senior Elizabeth Vaughn (fourth) and freshman Bella Butler (fifth). The Jills finished fifth overall.

Oakwood’s Grace Hartman (442) leads the field with Hawken’s Ella Gibson (475) during Saturday’s Division II state championship race at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

“Our team did incredible. It can only get better from here,” Hartman said. “We lose Elizabeth next year, which is going to hurt, but we have a strong team. We’re going to work together to push each other up.”

Hartman gave a gutsy effort against defending state champ Ella Gilson, a junior from Hawken. Hartman, who led with about a quarter-mile to go, finished 12.7 seconds behind Gilson in 17:58.6. Hartman came in second by 18.5 seconds last year.

“It is a little bit of a letdown,” Hartman said of two straight runner-up finishes. “But I put my best foot forward. I made a move. Just got tired at the end. Sometimes it happens and you have to move on and get ready for the next race. … I know I’ve got it in me. This doesn’t change the progress I’ve made.”

In D-III, Minster held off West Liberty-Salem’s challenge to win a fourth straight girls title. Freshman Ella Boate finished 10th to pace the Wildcats. Fort Loramie was third with 90.

In addition to Boate, Fort Loramie sophomore Olivia Borchers (14th), Coldwater sophomore Haley Alig (15th), Minster freshman Taylor Roth (17th) and Fort Loramie freshman Ava Turner (25th) finished among the top 30 runners to earn All-Ohio honors.

In the D-I girls meet Lebanon junior Faith Duncan (13th), Troy junior Dinah Gigandet (16th) and Springboro seniors Manon Blackman (22nd) and Jenna Schwinghamer (23rd) were All-Ohio honor.

For the boys, Lebanon senior Sam Duncan (13th), Bellbrook junior Takumi Ford (15th), Tippecanoe senior Bryce Conley (17th) were All-Ohio in D-I.

Carroll junior Kevin Agnew (10th), Brookville senior Justin Bland (19th) and Waynesville juniors Colin Amato (20th) and Kaden Harvey (24th) were All-Ohio in D-II.

Minster sophomore Alex Albers (10th), Anna sophomore Lucas Smith (11th), Fort Loramie sophomore Colten Gasson (20th), Botkins sophomore Collin Watterson (23rd) were All-Ohio in D-III.

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