BOWLING GREEN - There came a time this summer when Ashley Fischer had grown bored of navigating the same predictable running paths in Fremont. Every crack in the sidewalk and every hill and tree in the countryside had become a monotonous part of her training routine.
"I was getting tired of the same thing so it was nice to have somewhere new to run," Fischer said.
And the change has been a little overwhelming.
Fischer in just her freshman season has become the top runner at Bowling Green State University, a level of success that she admittedly did not foresee so soon in her college career.
"I'm surprised and very happy about everything," she said. "I just hope to keep improving."
Fischer has improved immensely from a year ago when, as a senior at Fremont Ross, she finished 17th at the state meet with a then personal best time of 18:59. Fischer won her first college race - a win over Toledo - in 18:22, 24 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, and was named Mid-American Conference Runner of the Week.
Fischer set a personal best time of 18:03 on Sept. 29 when she finished 24th of 239 runners at the Greater Louisville Classic.
With top returning runner Jamie Roflow out for the season with a stress fracture, Fischer has led BGSU in all four of its races.
Fischer was first among BGSU runners at the Falcon Invitational last weekend at BGSU. Overall, she placed 14th with a time of 18:25.64.
Fischer, who will run track at BG in the spring, finished fifth in the mile at the state track meet in June. It capped a remarkable senior year that saw her qualify for the state meets in cross country and track for the first time. Ross coach Cathy Esposito considers Fischer's senior season of cross country and track one of the top five coaching moments in her 16 years.
"I often talked to the kids last year that Ashley just did it the right way," Esposito said. "She started off as an average runner and worked hard all four years."
Fischer started working even harder before her senior season.
Esposito recalls a conversation with Fischer at the state track meet during Fischer's junior season. Fischer missed qualifying for the event and Esposito sensed that it was eating at her. "I started to be like, I need to get more focused and work on my workouts harder," Fischer said.
Fischer's new level of commitment paid dividends the next year. She began running better times in cross country and winning more races, including the regional meet in an upset over Bowling Green's Christy Titus. Cami Wells began noticing.
"I was impressed by her athleticism," said Wells, men's and women's cross country and women's track head coach. "She's a tall runner and has good form. She really, I thought, came across nicely in track season last year and improved her mile time tremendously. Her foot speed is very good also. She really doesn't have a weakness."
Fischer hopes to soon break 18 minutes, and Wells believes Fischer is capable of earning All-MAC honors at the league meet Oct. 27 at Central Michigan.
WALDIE SHINES: Aaron Waldie is proving to be a defensive secondary's worst nightmare this season at Hillsdale College.
The Southview graduate has caught 40 passes for 800 yards, which ranks second in the nation among Division II receivers. The Southview graduate has turned 11 of those catches into scores, including a long of 73 yards. His touchdown total ranks No. 1 on Hillsdale and is 12th-best in the nation through six games.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior has produced a team-leading 1,012 all-purpose yards, including 212 yards on 11 kickoff returns.
KMIC RUNNING WILD: At defending Division III national champion Mount Union College, Nate Kmic continues to be nearly automatic with the football tucked under his arm.
The Delta graduate, who is in his junior year at Division III football power Mount Union, ranks second in the nation in scoring with a team-leading 15 touchdowns scored in six games. The 5-9, 196-pounder has also rushed for 535 yards on 62 carries, 14 of which resulted in touchdowns. Kmic is averaging 108 yards rushing per contest and has totaled 600 all-purpose yards as the defending national champions' top rusher.
OKOROAFO'S RECORD: Jessica Okoroafo is making history as a key member of the Purdue University women's soccer team.
Okoroafo, a 5-7 junior, recently recorded her 20th career goal to become only the fifth Boilermaker in the program's history to score at least 20 goals and register 50 points for a career.
The Northview High graduate, who is a starting forward at Purdue, has helped the Boilermakers get off to a 10-1-1 start and earn a ranking as high as No. 8 in the soccer coaches poll. She has produced two goals and seven assists through 12 games.
SCHERMBECK AT WOOSTER: Greg Schermbeck, a Whitmer graduate now living in North Carolina, is on pace for a 100-tackle-plus season for the Wooster football team. Schermbeck had 9 tackles in a loss to Wittenberg. He had 42 through the Fighting Scots first four games.
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