Anthony Wayne junior Ashley Evens credits her twin sister Alyssa and stiff competition in the Northern Lakes League for finally running under 19 minutes to qualify for this weekend s state cross country meet.
Evens ran a personal best time of 18:59.94 to take third place Saturday at the Division I girls regional meet at Tiffin to advance to state for the third year in a row.
Evens was one of only three girls to run under 19 minutes at the meet.
I ve always been very close, said Evens, who clocked in at 19:04 and took 14th place at state last year. It was very exciting to meet that goal. This year I m hoping I m peaking at the right time.
Evens is part of a largecontingent from northwest Ohio who hope to be cresting at the right time as it heads to Scioto Downs in Columbus. Boys and girls in Division I through III will race at the state tournament this Saturday.
Evens finished 55th as a freshman and 14th last year as a sophomore.
Her goal has been to get in the 18 s and she just got it last weekend. She s peaking at the right time, said AW coach Mandy Ostendorf. She s constantly improving.
Evens trains daily with Alyssa, whose time of 20:20.25 fell short of qualifying for state.
She pushes me. She s a very good runner, Ashley said. It s been a great season. My sister and I run so similar. I would not be where I am without her support.
Evens also said competing against runners from league foe Bowling Green has been beneficial. The Bobcats are the two-time defending state champions.
It s nice to have the Bowling Green girls like [Christy] Titus and [Barbara] Powers in our league. They are always there to push us, Evens said.
Titus finished runner-up at the state meet last year and will attempt to lead the Bobcats to a third straight title in Division I. The Bobcats took the team title at the regional meet, led by Titus, Powers, Shannon Titus, Anne-Marie Simon and Andrea Pereira de Almeida.
Also in Division I, Alison Leckrone of Findlay makes a return trip to Columbus after finishing 17th there last year as a freshman.
In Division II, the girls teams from Wauseon, Maumee and Napoleon all qualified for the state meet. Wauseon won the regional led by freshman Holly Baird s second-place finish (19:26.57). Her sister Chelsea Baird, a junior, took 29th at state last year.
Maumee s top runner is senior Anna Leck, who advanced to Columbus individually last year. She will be joined this year by freshman sister Izzy Leck, Shannon Tolles, Becca Silverstein and Bridgett Colbow.
Napoleon took fourth as a team last year with senior Michelle Huddle back after coming in 15th individually among the team scorers last season.
Also qualifying in D-II were: Ashley Alejandro (Clyde), Kelly Gephart (Oak Harbor), Abbie Selhorst (Ottawa-Glandorf) and Defiance s Kristen Barth and Lauren Fett.
Elmwood s Kaye Bockbrader and Morgan Varty are two of the top area girls who advanced in Division III. Bockbrader, a freshman, won a regional title last Saturday and Varty, a senior, was 15th.
Liberty-Benton and Gibsonburg both qualified as a team in Division III. L-B finished fourth at state last year led by Kailee Whitaker (fifth among team scorers) and Kesha Brooks (seventh). The Golden Bears Ashley Fisher ran a 19:35.75 to take fifth at the regional meet Saturday.
Individuals in D-III who will compete this weekend include Audra Brown (Ayersville), Danielle Wyse (Fayette), Carly Reese (Lakota), Sarah Foster (Edison) and Old Fort s Becky Miller and Lucy Stults.
In the boys races, St. John s, St. Francis and Northview will all send teams to Columbus. Last year, St. John s finished seventh, the Knights were eighth and Northview came in ninth.
St. John s juniors Matt and Chris Lemon took eight and 17th, respectively among the team scorers in 2004, and sophomore Joe Miller was 11th. The Knights top runner is Nick Zyckowicz (30th last year) and Northview s Alex Walch, Paul Dean and Austin Hendrix all make a return trip to state.
Area individual qualifiers in Division I include Devin Butcher (Bowling Green), Bo Waggoner (Maumee), Chris Finn (Central Catholic) and Skyler Schmitt (Whitmer).
Eastwood junior Corey Johnson carries the area s individual hopes in Division II after taking a regional championship on Saturday (15:57.46). Five seniors also advanced including Bryan s Nick Plouck, Darrin Flickinger of Defiance, Oak Harbor s Jake Lemon and Wauseon s Rudy Corpus.
Edison also qualified as a team in D-II.
Perhaps the strongest division in northwest Ohio is the D-III boys. Old Fort, Fayette and Toledo Christian all will send solid teams to Scioto Downs.
Old Fort took sixth last year with Jackson Stults, Mike Rodriguez and Dustin Miller all finishing in the top 30 in the team race.
Fayette s best runners have been Heath Armstrong and Nathan Stoltsfus. Armstrong was 12th at state last year.
Toledo Christian junior Tyler Boris hopes to improve on his 16th-place individual finish and will be joined this year by Steven Lane, Kurt Fisher, Josiah Bragg and Anthony Althauser.
Other Division III individual competitors include Dustin Lucius (Hopewell-Loudon), Deven Siesel (Margaretta), Jordan Kirwen (Gibsonburg) and Lakota s Jordan Allison and Bryce Tiell.
Contact Mark Monroe at:email@example.com or 419-724-6110.