Beavercreek state cross country title: A once-in-a-lifetime experience

In a show of support, Beavercreek's girls soccer players sent inspirational messages to their cross country classmates after winning the Division I state championship Friday night. The message: if we can do it so can you.

The Beavers cross country team, as it turned out, showed an impressive kick or two of its own Saturday.

Junior Taylor Ewert — who separated herself so early from the pack that it seemed as though she started her final kick after the first mile — won the D-I state championship by finishing the 3.1-mile course at National Trail Raceway in 17 minutes, 38.7 seconds. That dominating 26.5-second victory kick-started the Beavers to their second state championship and first since 1996.

»RELATED: Creek girls soccer makes history

Beavercreek scored 118 points to Centerville’s 141, a 23-point victory that ended the Elks’ four-year run as state champions. Centerville sophomore Emma Bucher finished second overall in 18:04.5.

“I wanted to win, not just for myself but to help my teammates,” said Ewert, who led by 9.8 seconds after the first mile and 28.4 seconds after the second mile. “I just focused. I’m so happy for my teammates. We’ve been waiting for this day and to accomplish it is awesome.”

Said Bucher: “I like having someone like Taylor in front of me. I want that competition to look forward to during the race. It motivates me to push myself even harder. … I’m really proud of us. Even though we got second that’s still really awesome.”

Joining Ewert on the podium to hoist the state title were junior Savannah Roark (16th), sophomore Juliann Williams (21st), junior Jodi Pierce (34th), senior Emma Johnson (103rd), junior Kendall Hobbs (117th) and senior Bently Barrett (118th).

“I’m overcome with joy,” Beavercreek coach Howard Russ said. “I know we’ve been ranked No. 1 (in the state poll) but to do it at the biggest race … it was a team effort.”

Russ said Williams, normally the No. 2 runner on the team, slid back to No. 4 dealing with injuries and called her even finishing out the season gutsy. Johnson, the No. 7 runner at regional two weeks ago, passed nine runners during the second mile and 13 more in the final mile to solidify the win.

The Greater Western Ohio Conference has won the past five D-I girls team state championships and five of the last seven individual titles.

“I think it’s amazing to win an individual title but I think it’s icing on the cake our team won as well,” Ewert said. “It’s amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I know this is something we’ll all remember.”

Ewert can add to an already remarkable weekend when she runs in the Nike Cross Regionals Midwest event in Terre Haute, Ind., today. Many of Ohio’s top runners and top teams, including Beavercreek and Centerville, decided to skip the national qualifier event when rain postponed the state meet from Nov. 3 to Saturday.

“It’ll definitely be a challenge but I’m up for it. You never know,” Ewert said. “I think I’m going in with the mentality of let’s see what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully I can earn respect for at least trying and maybe get an at-large bid. Maybe help our team’s chances at getting an at-large bid, too.”

Troy senior Olivia Tyre and Centerville junior Kerri Walsh were also All-Ohio for finishing among the top 20 overall.

In the D-II girls race, Oakwood freshman Grace Hartman – who had never run a 5K prior to cross country season – finished second overall in 18:55.9. Hawken sophomore Ella Gilson won by 18.9 seconds.

“I was trying to move up but, at some point it was just trying to maintain my spot and working as hard as I can,” Hartman said. “I’m still really happy.”

Oakwood junior Elizabeth Vaughn finished 10 th to give the Jills a pair of All-Ohioans. Vaughn fell during the first mile and got boxed in navigating a corner but persevered for a coveted podium finish.

“I have to be happy today because a podium finish is a podium finish,” Vaughn said.

The Southwestern Buckeye League had a strong showing with Oakwood’s duo and Bellbrook’s girls finishing third overall. Tippecanoe was fourth as senior Katie Taylor grabbed a podium spot in 19th.

Centerville senior Ben Burkett earned All-Ohio honors when he finished 16th in the D-I boys race for the area’s highest finish. In D-II boys, Tippecanoe junior Bryce Conley finished 20th.

Minster’s girls won their third straight D-III state championship with an 88-point victory. Junior Emma Watcke came 2.3 seconds away from defending her state championship and finished second.

Fort Loramie’s boys won the D-III state title for the second time in three seasons as senior Joe Ballas finished third and senior Jake Rethman fifth. Arcanum senior Tanner Delk finished fourth.

The Fort Loramie girls finished second in D-III behind Minster and were paced by freshman Olivia Borchers in ninth.

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