PICKERINGTON — Washington High School sophomore Maddy Garrison made her first appearance at the Division II Regional cross country meet Saturday at Pickerington North High School.
Garrison ran a time of 20:57.7, placing her 39th out of 122 runners in a very talented field.
The Southeast district showed its strength, with four of the top five teams coming from the southeast.
Unioto girls won the Regional title with 73 placement points.
Sheridan was third with 118 points, Athens was fourth with 131 points and Fairfield Union was fifth with 132 points.
Minerva, out of the East district, placed second with 102 placement points.
The top four teams advance to this Saturday’s State meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
“Maddy had a really good season,” Washington head cross country coach Ryan Day said. “She showed some really good improvement throughout this season and from last year. We are really proud that she advanced from the District, even though it was kind of a tough race, especially with Alexis (Gray) not being able to finish (the District race).
“Maddy ran well at the Regional meet,” Day said. “The race this year at the Regional was really, really fast.”
Seventeen runners broke the 20-minute mark at Pickerington.
The Regional winner was junior Michelle Hostettler of West Holmes with a time of 18:49.5.
Unioto was led by junior Haley Wright taking fourth place in 19:09.1.
“This course (at Pickerington) was a lot harder than the course on which she ran her personal best, which I believe was at Unioto,” Day said. “The course at Pickerington was relatively flat, with a couple of rolling hills in the back part of it. It does go through the woods near the end and the beginning of the course had the kids going through the woods, also.
“It was just a really fast race,” Day said. “Maddy ran on this course last year. Her time was nearly two minutes faster, but, she was only a couple of places better. That’s how much faster the race was this year. The competition was brutal. The girls just set a blistering pace.”
Washington had just two seniors on the cross country team this year: Alexis Gray and Kirsten List.
“We were sad that they couldn’t run at the Regionals,” Day said. “Alexis did a great job this year trying to balance cross country and soccer. She really had some good races, especially early in the year before soccer took its toll on her. She was a really good leader by example. It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye to a runner of her calibre.
“Kirsten got a lot better through the season and was really running well at the end,” Day said. “I think she appreciated the fact that her senior year was coming to an end and was really putting in some good work to be her best.
“We’re going to miss them for multiple reasons,” Day said. “But, especially because of their performance this year.”
For the second year in a row the Lady Lions won the SCOL cross country title. However, also for the second year in a row, they were denied the official title because there weren’t enough teams competing on the girls’ side to award the trophy.
“Even though there was not an official title, we still consider our girls league champions,” Day said. “I was hoping that would translate to getting our team out to the Regional meet, but we didn’t. We had a good season, nonetheless.”
The Washington Blue Lion boys cross country team was young this year. There were no seniors and only one junior.
The Blue Lions placed sixth at the SCOL, led by Chris Conger and Josh Trimmer.
“We’re excited to see all of them come back,” Day said. “I think if they put in the running and the miles required in the summer, I think we’ll be a lot better next year.”
Also at the girls Regional, Zane Trace placed 12th, Waverly was 13th and Vinton County was 16th.
In the Division II boys Regional cross country race, Sheridan crushed the competition, taking second, third and fifth places, as well as 12th and 14th, scoring 34 placement points.
Unioto boys were second with 77 placement points.
Shermans’ senior David Magda won the Regional in a time of 16:04.2.
Unioto also had Cole Clever place 11th and Aaron Laplante was 20th.
There were 129 competitors in the Division II race.
Athens placed third, Logan Elm was eighth and Waverly placed 14th out of 16 teams.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1