Excluding coming up two seconds shy of breaking the meet record, Beavercreek junior Taylor Ewert didn’t think her day could get much better at the Saturday Night Lights cross country meet at Centerville High School.
It did. As she gave interviews following her girls championship race victory in a personal-best 17:08.1, a Beavercreek coach delivered the news. Beavercreek also won the team title by beating four-four defending state champion Centerville by one point.
“That’s a really big deal,” Ewert said. “We’ve been working really hard to try and beat them. It’s awesome to have it be here. … That was our goal for state. To get ahead of that is really awesome. We definitely put our name out there.”
Centerville entered the meet ranked No. 1 in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) state poll. Beavercreek was No. 5.
Ewert set the tone with her victory, which came two seconds short of the record 17:06 posted by Troy graduate Morgan Gigandet in 2017. Still, Ewert’s time smashed her goal of finishing in 17:20.
Ewert and Centerville sophomore Emma Bucher split from the pack in the second mile of the 3.1-mile race. Ewert led by 10 seconds entering the final mile and won by 9.6 seconds.
The portable generators used to light portions of the course for the Saturday Night Lights girls Championship race allowed Ewert to keep tabs on Bucher.
“We were coming down the hill and I knew I wanted to push it,” Ewert said of the hill on the loop that greeted runners near the end of the second and third miles. “I could see (Bucher) in the lights and her shadow wasn’t there anymore so I knew I put a little bit of a lead on her. I knew she was a fierce competitor and I didn’t want to lose that gap at all.”
Beavercreek placed Ewert, junior Jodie Pierce (fifth), junior Savannah Roark (17 th) and sophomore Juliann Williams (28th) among the top 30 runners in a strong field. Beavercreek led 47-76 after the first four runners were scored and held on when fifth runner and senior Emma Johnson finished 78th.
“They’re a terrific team,” Centerville coach David Dobson said. “Our girls competed really well tonight. They love this atmosphere and being on their home course. But hats off to Beavercreek. They ran a great race and it’ll be fun to compete against them the remainder of the season.”
Saturday Night Lights featured more than 4,100 high school and middle school runners competing in 13 races. The race takes athletes through the football stadium three times, out on a grass pasture and through a tree-lined path all lit by portable generators.
“In the day you have one image of the course. But at night it’s so much crazier,” Ewert said. “Everything seems more extreme. Running at night is so much fun.”
Minster junior Emma Watcke, the defending D-III state champion, finished seventh (17:50.8) against an almost entire D-I field.
Sophomore Hope Erbach also cracked the top 10, finishing 10th (18:07.3).
In the boys Championship race, runner-up Miamisburg scored 133 points and finished one point behind winner Olentangy Orange. Miamisburg senior Parker Hines led the Vikings by finishing 16th in 15:55.5.
Centerville senior Ben Burkett finished third (15:31.4), Fort Loramie senior Joe Ballas was fifth (15:38.6), Wayne senior Lucas Houk was eighth (15:45.9) and Fairmont senior Andrew Samir was 10 th (15:46.4).