Cross Country: Ewert, Creek top loaded field in Division I girls regional

In terms of state rankings, the numbers held steady at the Division I girls regional cross country championship Saturday in Troy.

The course record didn’t fare as well.

Six of the state’s top 10 D-I teams went head-to-head on the 3.1-mile course winding its way along Troy’s flood plain and levee. Top-ranked Beavercreek dispatched all challengers to win its first regional championship since the late 1990s.

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Perhaps more impressive than that was Beavercreek junior Taylor Ewert’s course record in 17 minutes, 11.42 seconds, good for a 31.08-second win over Centerville sophomore Emma Bucher. The previous record was 17:38.6 set by Troy’s Morgan Gigandet in 2015. Last week Ewert broke Gigandet’s district record by 13.6 seconds at Cedarville University.

“It’s really cool knowing I’m on the right track,” Ewert said of pacing ahead of Gigandet, who won the D-I state title as a senior in 2017. “It’s good to see where she’s run and to see where I am. We’ll see how it turns out.”

Beavercreek won the team title with a 98-102 victory over Lakota East (No. 2 in the state). Centerville (No. 5) was third and followed by Turpin (No. 4), Mason (No. 6) and Kings (No. 10). All six of those teams qualified for Saturday’s state championship at National Trail Raceway near Hebron.

“Being number one on paper is one thing,” Beavercreek coach Howard Russ said. “But we finally got to race all the teams in Southwest Ohio so it’s a good feeling.

“It’s going be a dog fight next week. Anybody can win. We could have been first today or we could have been fifth today. I’m happy for the girls, but no it’s not over.”

• In D-II girls, Bellbrook’s top three runners finished ninth (senior Minami Ford), 10th (sophomore Avarie Faulkner) and 11th (senior Elise Kemper) to lead the Golden Eagles to the team title. Bellbrook scored 57 points to runner-up Tippecanoe’s 75.

Oakwood freshman Grace Hartman and junior Elizabeth Vaughn claimed the top two spots overall. Hartman won the D-II title in 18:18.55 and Vaughn finished 40 seconds later. The Jills finished third to advance as a team.

“We came here and practiced the other day so I knew what to expect,” Hartman said. “I wasn’t feeling too great the third mile, but I told myself you know how to get through, you know you’re almost done so just push as hard as you can.”

• In D-I boys, Centerville senior Ben Burkett was one of two runners to run a sub-16 minute race. The other was state title favorite Conant Smith of Middletown. Burkett finished second in 15:47.91. That was 35 seconds off Smith’s winning time.

Still, Burkett separated himself from the competition he ran with at last week’s district meet.

“Last week there was a really strong pack that I was running with almost the whole time,” Burkett said. “Today I tried to run with them again in the beginning. I kind of tried to pull ahead.”

Centerville finished third as a team and Miamisburg fourth to advance to state.

•In D-II boys, Tippecanoe junior Bryce Conley (16:19.71) finished second overall to lead the Red Devils to a runner-up team finish behind Springfield Shawnee. Eaton also advanced.

•In D-III boys, Fort Loramie seniors Joe Ballas and Jake Rethman led the Redskins to the team title with a 1-2 finish. Ballas won the regional title in 16:19.67 and Rethman finished five seconds later. Arcanum senior Tanner Delk made it a three-way race most of the way.

“All three of us are seniors so it’s really exciting to run with these guys,” Ballas said. “You make a lot of good friendships and that’s awesome.”

•In D-III girls, Fort Loramie finished second behind West Liberty-Salem. Fort Loramie freshman Olivia Borchers finished third (19:08.86) to lead the Redskins. Bradford and Versailles also advanced to state.

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