Granville’s girls lit up a dreary, soggy Saturday with big smiles.
They couldn’t help but grin after dominating the Division II district cross country meet for a fifth consecutive championship.
“We had four girls under 20 minutes. That’s really exciting, and I’m happy for the whole team,” Micaela DeGenero said after the Blue Aces won with 48 points, well ahead of runner-up Marion Pleasant’s 128. They advanced to the regional at Troy with a ton of confidence. Their five top finishers placed within nearly a minute of each other.
“We’re at that point where we’ve put in enough training, and it’s starting to pay off. It’s showing in our races and our attitude,” said DeGenero, who led Granville with her fourth-place finish in 19:19. She was followed by Alyssa Atkinson (sixth in 19:23), Claire Lamb (seventh in 19:29), Cassidy Carey (10th in 19:49) and Tori Flowers (21st in 20:28).
“We’re really starting to pack it in, and we’re only to get better from here,” DeGenero said.
She wasn’t that bothered by the conditions, although the Blue Aces were fortunate to run just before the Watkins Memorial course became drenched for Division I athletes.
“It was worse last year,” DeGenero said. “I was expecting worse (Saturday).”
Coach Dave Agosta said Granville must keep running at this high level.
“It’s a strong regional,” he said. “We have five of the top six or seven teams in the state there. Someone is not going to get out.”
Another team that got out for the next round on Saturday was Watkins Memorial, which finished fourth with 121 points in the Division I, Section 3 race to advance to Pickerington North next weekend.
Josie Woosley finished fifth in a windy downpour in 19:21 to lead the Warriors. Samantha Hyme was 13th in 19:54, Raechal Schoenberger 23rd in 20:18, Natalie Watson 31st in 20:51 and Claire Snode 49th in 21:16. Afterward, the team was caked in mud, but still was able to smile.
“I’ve run in worse, but this was pretty far up there,” Woosley said. “It wasn’t so bad in the woods. It was just the mud being splashed in your face. Last week, I ran 18:45, which was the school record and a (personal best), and I won the (Licking County League meet). I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that (Saturday), but was still able to get through it.”
Also qualifying for Pickerington North were a pair of Newark freshmen. Brigit Luecke was 11th in Section 3 in 19:46 and Lauren Fischer 14th in 19:56. The Wildcats nearly made it as a team, finishing seventh with 171 points. The top six teams and 24 individuals advanced in Section 3.
In D- III, Newark Catholic senior Mary Richardson dueled Columbus Academy star Julie Rizk for much of the race before Rizk pulled away to win in 18:38. Richardson finished second in a personal-best 18:50 to advance to Pickerington North along with sophomore Kat Bowman, 12th in 19:51. But the Green Wave came up just short as a team, placing fifth. The top four teams and 16 individuals moved on.
“(Rizk) is just a super 800 runner,” Richardson said. “I knew I had to get ahead to beat her because she has that great kick to the finish line.
“My goal was 18:30; I was really mad about that race last week,” Richardson added. “I think I can get close to that. But it was still a (personal best).”
Also advancing in D-III was Granville Christian Academy junior Lauren Keiser, who placed 10th in 19:50.