The Granville girls cross country team surprised everyone but themselves last year, placing sixth in the Division II state meet for its second-best ever finish.
The Blue Aces peaked at the right time. On Saturday, they were just getting started for this season as they placed third out of 17 teams in their Granville Invitational under hot, muggy conditions at Bryn Du Mansion.
Watkins Memorial scored 98 points in second behind the 28 of dominant Upper Arlington, one of the top teams in Ohio. Granville was third with 106 points. Sarra Taylor of London won in 19:15.4, while Ann Heurman of Upper Arlington was second in 19:21.3 and Josie Woosley from Watkins Memorial was third in 20:08.
“It was pretty hot, but the mindset was that it wasn’t too hot and to keep going,” said junior Alyssa Atkinson, who led the Blue Aces with her 13th place out of 154 runners in 21:10. “A lot of other teams had done a lot of other races, and we just wanted to see what we could do. I didn’t want to go out too fast, just stay within myself.”
Sophomore Micaela DeGenero was 15th in 21:13, and admitted it was hard to adjust to the heat.
“We had been practicing in the heat, but it was a little hot for our first race,” she said. “For our first race, we did very well and met our expectations. By the end of the season, we should be really strong.”
“We might have finished higher, but I worked them really hard this week,” coach Dave Agosta said.
Not that the Blue Aces were concerned. DeGenero finished 46th in last year’s state meet as a freshman to lead Granville. Junior Claire Lamb was 49th, Atkinson was 63rd and sophomore Tori Flowers placed 88th as the main nucleus returns.
At the Granville Invitational, senior Cassidy Carey was 21st in 21:31, Lamb took 23rd in 21:35 and Flowers was 34th in 22:04. They were followed by freshman Destiny Braden, 37th in 22:08, and senior Melissa Kerr who was 41st in 22:18.
“By the end of the season, it will even out a little more,” DeGenero said. “We build off each other in races, help each other out.
“Everyone is back, we have a strong freshman group coming up, and some more freshmen after them.”