State-ranked Beavercreek, Centerville girls face off in district cross country meet: ‘It should be fun to watch’

Beavercreek senior Juliann Williams and the second-ranked Beavers face off against No. 4 Centerville in Saturday's Division I district meet at Cedarville. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

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Beavercreek senior Juliann Williams and the second-ranked Beavers face off against No. 4 Centerville in Saturday's Division I district meet at Cedarville. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

The names have changed for the Beavercreek and Centerville high school girls cross country teams. The results haven’t.

Beavercreek or Centerville has won the Division I cross country team state championship every year since 2014, a streak of six straight titles. Beavercreek graduated a stellar group of seniors last season – three who finished among the top seven runners at the state meet in 2019 – and reloaded with another group that heads into Saturday’s district meet ranked No. 2 in the state. Centerville is right behind at No. 4.

“Saturday is going to be tough with us, Centerville and (No. 7) Lebanon all in the same race,” Beavercreek coach Howard Russ said of the meet at Cedarville University’s Elvin R. King cross country course. “It will probably come down to who has the best fifth, sixth and seventh runners. It is supposed to be rainy, cool and muddy which is perfect conditions for a cross country race. It should be fun to watch.”

The top seven teams advance to the D-I regional meet Oct. 31 in Troy. Seven teams also advance in D-II and D-III. For the boys the top nine teams in D-I, top seven in D-II and top eight in D-III qualify to regionals. To meet COVID-19 guidelines and limit the number of athletes per race, each boys and girls division will be split into two separate races instead of one large one.

Beavercreek, Centerville and Lebanon also enter with three of the top contenders for the individual title. Beavercreek senior and University of Kentucky commit Juliann Williams (18:17 personal best time), Centerville senior and Ohio State University commit Emma Bucher (18:37) and Lebanon senior and Mississippi State University commit Faith Duncan (17:50) are among the favorites.

“I am excited to watch Julz, Emma and Faith all race on Saturday,” Russ said. “They have been racing each other since middle school. … These three are not only great athletes but also just nice young ladies. I would love to see all of them on the podium in November (at the state meet).”

Bucher and Duncan have both battled back from injuries. Bucher missed the second half of the 2019 season with a stress fracture. Duncan spent much of last season doing low-risk training to fully recover for her senior season.

Centerville has also received a strong effort from sophomore Mia Robillard. Robillard, with a PR of 18:29, also averages about 45 minutes per game for the Elks' soccer team that’s ranked No. 5 in the state.

* Tippecanoe enters the D-II meet with the Miami Valley League individual champions in both boys and girls, but they took different routes to get there.

Senior Gannon Owen (16:07) didn’t start running cross country until last season. He’s since gotten the attention of college programs Cedarville, Wright State and Dayton among others.

Junior Annie Sinning (18:59) has added to her family’s strong running tradition with her MVL title and the Red Devils' No. 6 state ranking. Her sister, Allison, was a two-time All-Ohioan and competed at Xavier. Her brother, Ethan, runs for Ohio Dominican. Her mother is an assistant coach and standout marathon runner. Her father is a retired lieutenant colonel from the Air Force Academy, where he played on the offensive line.

* Carroll’s boys won the Greater Catholic League Coed championship for the 10th straight season and 14 of the last 15. Senior Kevin Agnew (15:47) was named the GCL Coed runner of the year for the second straight season. The Patriots' girls team won their side of the division for the third straight season.

* Waynesville’s girls had the top five finishers at the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Buckeye Division meet for a perfect score of 15. Senior Hope Erbach (19:03) led the Spartans to their 10th straight title and 11th in the last 12 seasons. The Spartans, ranked No. 7 in the D-II state poll, had the top nine finishers overall and 13 of the top 20, too.

The boys team, ranked No. 3 in the D-II poll, won its fourth straight title with 16 points. Kaden Harvey won the individual title in 15:53, just off his school-record time of 15:52.

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