KIRKERSVILLE — Washington High School junior Maddy Garrison had a successful first run at the State cross country meet on a beautiful first Saturday in November.
Garrison placed 41st out of 177 runners in the Division II event with a time of 19:19.3.
That puts her in the top 23 percent of the overall field.
Garrison well-exceeded her coaches’ expectation by a considerable margin.
WHS cross country coach Ryan Day set an estimated mark last week of how Garrison could fare, thinking she could place in the top 33 to 40 percent of the runners.
Saturday’s time was a substantial 28 seconds faster than the one turned in by Garrison at the Regional meet.
“I had a lot of support,” Garrison said. “I am thankful for everyone who came out and watched me and gave me their support and love.
“One of my goals was to get my time into the 19:30’s,” Garrison said. “I’ve been stuck in the 19:40’s all year. I ran a 19:19 and I was shocked by that. There were just so many girls there to push you, because, these are the top girls in the state. That type of competition is great to be around; all those girls that are at the same level as you, running-wise.
“It was great being there,” Garrison said. “It was a great experience and I want to go again next year. Hopefully I can finish in the top 20 and make All-Ohio.”
Garrison spoke about her State cross country race.
“I started out just a little too fast,” Garrison said. “I think my nerves got to me. I didn’t think I started out that fast, but, just with that level of competition, everyone’s going fast.
“I started out a little too fast,” Garrison said. “Then, I slowed down a lot my second mile. I shouldn’t have done that. My third mile, I picked it up again. The last few hundred meters, that’s where I caught most of the people I was able to pass.”
Garrison ran a 5:50.6 for the first mile. That put her 39th.
She ran the second mile in 6:39.1. With that, Garrison dropped back in the field to 51st place.
Her average time, per mile, was 6:12.8.
A 5,000-meter race is 171.98 meters more than three miles.
The runners wore computer chips on their shoes that tracked their progress, Garrison said.
“The last 400 meters of the race, that’s when I really started to kick it in,” Garrison said.
It was a great junior season for Garrison. She won six races this year. She placed in the top five in every race, except the Regional and State.
“I’m happy with what I was able to do this year,” Garrison said. “I’ve made (huge improvements) since my freshman and sophomore years. A lot of that has to do with the work I put in this past summer; just having the training I’ve had. I’m happy how I finished this year. I’m hoping to make it a little bit farther next year, placement-wise, at State.
Garrison now turns her athletic energies to the upcoming basketball season.
“Basketball season ends about a month before track season begins,” Garrison said, indicating that she will likely find time to fit in some running prior to the 2017 track season.
“Maddy ran great,” Washington head coach Ryan Day said. “That was probably her best race of the year, considering the competition and it being her first time at the State meet.
“We were hoping she would place in the top one-third,” Day said. “She was in the top 23 percent, and that’s amazing.
“She went out hard, which is what she always does,” Day said. “That’s part of her strategy. The competition goes out faster at the State meet than any other meet.
“She also mentioned to me that she slightly rolled her ankle in between mile one and mile two,” Day said. “She said it burned for about a half-mile, then it went away and she was fine. She had her typical strong kick at the end and passed people.
“With the technology, I knew where she was after the first mile,” Day said. “Spectators and coaches were not allowed to go to the one-mile mark. Then, when she crossed the two-mile mark, her time and place was updated. I was able to get to her at the second mile. I could run way out there and see her and give her a little advice and encouragement.
“In between the second mile mark and the finish, Maddy had increased her spot by 11 places,” Day said. “That’s a pretty good number. Most kids are just holding on; they may not be getting passed, but they’re not passing anyone, either. Maddy increased 11 spots in the last mile.
“It was a great performance to end the season,” Day said. “Obviously, that’s the goal; to be running your best at the end. Maddy ran an incredible race at the State meet.”
Garrison ran a time of 18:06 at Chillicothe, setting a new league record for girls cross country.
Louis Reid was the assistant coach for cross country and Washington H.S. alum, Taylor Alsop, also helped with the team this season, Day noted.
“I was very thankful to see so many people from Washington at the State supporting Maddy,” Day said. “I want to thank my wife, (Beth) and kids, because they don’t get to see me a lot in the fall.”
Leah Roter, a junior from Beachwood, won the State Division II cross country title in a time of 17:55.1.
Woodridge won the Division II girls team title with 88 placement points.
Garrison was the only runner from the South Central Ohio League to make it to the State cross country tournament.
Laikin Tarlton, a freshman from Chillicothe, placed 25th at the Regionals. The top 24 individuals qualified to State from the respective Regionals.
Leesburg Fairfield’s boys team placed fourth at the State in Division III out of 20 teams.
Fairfield junior, Noah Richmond, placed 11th overall out of 188 runners (6th as a team member) in a time of 16:09.6.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1