By David Fong
WEST MILTON — Emma Kennett won the Miami County Cross Country Championship as both a seventh and eighth grader at Troy Junior High School.
She was a little worried about stepping up in competition and competing at the high school level Saturday at Lowry Park in West Milton.
“It’s a lot more pressure on me now,” the Troy freshman said. “I just wanted to keep pushing the whole race.”
Kennett was more than up to the challenge as she won her first high school race by nearly 23 seconds — and her third-straight Miami County title dating back to her junior high racing days — and led the Troy girls to the team title Saturday. She finished in 18:47.3.
“It feels really great,” Kennett said. “It was a big goal of mine to try to get first. I knew I could. I won it in both seventh and eighth grade, so it was a big goal of mine to win it again my freshman year — I focused really hard. When I was warming up, I had to work out a side stitch. I was worried about that. I just tried to practice getting my breathing under control. I though the weather was perfect. I like running when its cooler.”
Kennett paced the Troy girls to a two-point victory over Tippecanoe in what could end up being a preview of the Greater Western Ohio Conference American League division race in a few weeks. Troy finished with 36 points, while Tippecanoe was second with 38. Piqua was third with 105 points.
For Troy, depth was the key. Kennett was first, while Olivia Tyre was second (19:10.0), Dinah Gigandet was fourth (19:28.1), Renee Kovacs was 14th (21:12.1), Hannah Markeson was 18th (21:38.0), Katie Castaneda was 20th (21:44.2) and Ella Kirkpatrick was 22nd (21:51.8).
“I was very impressed with how we did, due to our inexperience,” Troy girls coach Kevin Alexander said. “We basically knew this was going to be a dual meet between us and Tipp. Our top three girls did what we expected them to do and Tipp’s top three girls did what we expected them to do.
“What we didn’t know was how our four through seven girls would do versus what Tipp’s four through seven girls would do. In our four through seven girls we have Kovacs and Kirkpatrick, who are both freshmen. We have Markeson, who got injured and didn’t finish last year. And we have Castaneda, who has been hurt every year and has never finished a season. So none of those girls had the experience running in a race like this, but they all stepped up and did great.”
Leading the way for Tippecanoe was Katie Taylor, who placed third in 19:19.6. Kaili Titley was fifth (20:04.5), Mackenzie Dix was eighth (20:18.7), Jillian Brown was 12th (20:56.0), Annie Martino was 13th (21:05.5), Tori Prenger was 15th (21:15.6) and Carli Federle was 16th (21:17.4).
“The GWOC will be a whole different race,” Alexander said. “And Tipp has a great team. (Tippecanoe coach) Byron (Kimmel) does a great job. It’s going to be another good race. It will be another race where we’ll need all of our girls to run well to beat them, because they are an outstanding team.”
Piqua placed third with 105 points. The top finishers for the Indians were: Cassie Schrubb (sixth, 20:09.9), Ana Adams (11th, 20:53.6), Maeve Vulcan (37th, 22:59.6), Zoe Blankenship (40th, 23:09.4) and Karloina Polakowski (50th, 23:43.5).
Covington was fourth with 109 points. The top finishers for the Buccaneers were: Paige Boehringer (ninth, 20:29.6), Ashlyn Plessinger (19th, 21:39.6), Chelsea Ford (23rd, 21:54.5), Alexis Meyer (33rd, 22:44.9) and Allie Garman (59th, 24:45.0).
Milton-Union was fifth with 126 points.The top finishers for the Bulldogs were: Rachel Thompson (26th, 22:08.9), Kyli Parsons (29th, 22:25.4), Maddie Stasiak (31st, 22:31.7), Micah Tracy (38th, 23:00.1) and Mackenzie Beam (41st, 23:16.0).
Miami East was sixth with 153 points. The top finishers for the Vikings were: Kiley Davie (10th, 20:52.2), Marissa Savini (27th, 22:21.1), Paige Blauvelt (52nd, 23:57.6), Cyrena McAdams (80th, 26:25.6) and Elizabeth Bennett (88th, 27:11.6).
Bethel had four runners compete: Kaitlyn Balkcom (25th, 21:57.3), Kyliw Blakcom (35th, 22:54.2), Madison Spaeth (49th, 23:42.0) and Josie Rhodes (90th, 27:31.6).
Bradford had four runners compete: Karmen Knepp (seventh, 20:15.7), Olivia Daugherty (24th, 21:54.9), Mercedes Smith (48th, 23:40.0) and Jenna Shellabarger (66th, 25:18.3).
Troy Christian had three runners compete: Rachel Plummer (62nd, 24:54.5), Sophie Pitsenbarger (84th, 26:44.4) and Katie Townsend (105th, 33:52.1).
For complete results from the Miami County Championships, check www.speedy-feet.com
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong