HEBRON — Fourth-ranked West Liberty-Salem finished a disappointing ninth at the Div. III state cross country championships on Saturday with 282 team points. Powerhouse Minster won the meet with 34 points.
“When you see Fort Loramie fourth, that’s a bummer, because we knew we could beat them,” WL-S Coach Ann Vogel said. “Everyone’s back except for Reghan (Bieleski) and today was probably a good lesson for everybody about how to race this meet. We’ll be back next year and we’ve got even more girls coming up, so we’re going to keep fighting.”
Outstanding freshman Katelyn Stapleton took a spill on the soggy course midway through the race and was unable to finish. Her projected finish would have moved the Tigers into the fourth position.
Regardless, most of the girls were in high spirits after the race.
“I’m really proud of my team for making it to state,” Maddie Bahan said.
Bieleski finished in 19th place with a time of 19:20, earning her a place on the podium for the first time in her career and All-Ohio honors. The senior has been a state participant each of her four years, with her previous high-finish coming as a freshman.
“It’s an amazing experience. It’s so fun. I just try to come in with a positive attitude and give it my best and leave it all out there,” Bieleski said. “It was my goal the last four years. I just told myself I could do it and never gave up.”
Vogel was all praise for her workhorse senior after the race.
“When you talk about the sport of cross country being a process and believing in the process and working through the process, Reghan is textbook when it comes to that. I couldn’t be any happier for her,” Vogel said. “She had to catch two people at the end. That’s what seniors do for you, and that’s the kind of teammate she is – she knew Katelyn was down and she had to do her best for her team.”
Grace Adams (35th, 19:56), Bahan (108th, 21:05), Lydia Moell (127th, 21:26), Maria Henderson (145th, 21:49) and Lauren Fowler (158th, 22:19) each ran for the Tigers.
”There were some puddles in some places and it was a little soggy, but the rest of it felt good,” Moell said of the conditions.
“I actually think the weather was perfect for a race. It felt good running,” Adams added.
Also in Division III, Triad’s Holly Cole finished 70th in 20:28.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.