Miami Trace High School senior Kaelin Pfeifer is the only cross country runner from Fayette County still competing in the 2022 postseason.
Coming off her fourth place finish at the Frontier Athletic Conference meet in Greenfield on Oct. 15, Pfeifer competed in the Division II District meet at Rio Grande Saturday, Oct. 22.
Pfeifer placed 15th out of 133 runners in a time of 21:45.38 to advance to the Regional meet to be held at Pickerington North High School Saturday. Pfeifer’s event is slated to start at 1:15 p.m.
The top 24 individuals in that race qualify to the State meet.
The Record-Herald caught up with Pfeifer and her coach, Jeff Smallwood, prior to a practice session Thursday afternoon.
“Kaelin ran well at the District meet,” Smallwood said. “She knew what she needed to do — top 32. Those kids advanced to the Regional.”
“My main goal this year really was just to place well at Districts,” Pfeifer said. “We got moved to Division II, so I had a goal of going to Regionals. I (accomplished) that goal.
“Now I’m trying to go to State,” Pfeifer said. “I’ve been working really hard with Eli (Fliehman) out here. Training has gone really well for me this year. I’m just hoping it can all pay off this weekend.”
As a freshman, Pfeifer ran a time of 20:05 at the Rio Grande course. That remains her career personal best 5000-meter time.
“My p.r. this year is 20:15,” Pfeifer said. “I’m really hoping to get down in the high to mid 19s for this race, so I’ll be able to place and move on (to State). With the way training has been going this week, I really feel I’ll be able to hit that goal.”
“Eli has kind of been her rabbit, pushing her a little bit,” Smallwood said. “He’s a great teammate and they are great friends.”
“She ran a really nice race at the league meet, she ran a 20:31,” Smallwood said. “She was disappointed because she wanted to break 20. That’s her goal, to get into the 19s and she’s been close.
“I believe her p.r. is 20:15,” Smallwood said. “Different courses run different times. The terrain is different. It’s not like a track, where you run a mile and it’s the same dimensions and everything.
“Cross country is a different dynamic,” Smallwood said. “Different courses run different times. We haven’t ran at a super-fast one this year, but she’s had great times. She wants to break that 20-minute barrier and Pickerington is a good place to do that; it’s fast and it’s flat.
“She wants to run in college, that’s what her main focus is,” Smallwood said. “She likes basketball, but cross country and track, she loves. Ohio Dominican is going to be there Saturday to watch her. She’s a little nervous, but, I think she’s going to be fine.
“She works hard,” Smallwood said. “She’s a really good student. She does things the right way. She was at every meet this season. She’s going to be missed.
“Her freshman year, she was at Court House,” Smallwood said. “She qualified to the Regional. Her sophomore year, she was injured. She missed out on all-league as a sophomore. She made all-league as a freshman.
“She was all-league last year,” Smallwood said. “She did not make it to the Regional meet, because we were Division I. We had to go to the Central District. It’s so hard to run against the Hilliards, the Olentangies; they have so many more kids. They have 2,400 kids walking their hallways while we have 800.
“This year, we’re back in Division II and she’s going back to the Regional,” Smallwood said.
“Coach Smallwood has really pushed me to my best potential,” Pfeifer said. “I want to say thank you to Eli, too. He didn’t have to be out here with me, but he still was and he’s been a very big help. He’s my best friend.”
Pfeifer and Fliehman All-District
Kaelin Pfeifer and Eli Fliehman are both All-District in cross country for the 2022 season.
There were three Division I boys teams in cross country in the Southeast District. Chillicothe and Logan were sent to the Central District and Miami Trace was sent to the Southwest District.
The Miami Trace boys ran at Cedarville.
Fliehman placed 92nd out of 155 runners at Cedarville. Fliehman recorded a time of 18:34.90.
Aiden Johnson was 123rd in 20:23.80; Max Trimble was 124th in 20:25.50.
Also for Miami Trace, Justin Everhart was 138th in 21:31.30; Justin Robinson was 139th with a time of 21:36.50; Lyndon Phillips placed 144th in 22:27.70.
Freshman Landon Kimmel of Tippecanoe won in 15:13.50.
“Eli got voted on and received First Team, All-District in Division I,” Miami Trace head coach Jeff Smallwood said.
Fliehman was the top finisher from the Southeast District in that meet.
“If Eli had been in Division II and ran the same time he ran at Cedarville, he’d be going to the Regional meet,” Smallwood said.
Miami Trace girls at Districts
In addition to Pfeifer, Miami Trace had three other runners take part in the Division II District meet at Rio Grande.
Kamika Bennett was 49th in 23:43.06; Ava Shull was 60th in 24:16.19 and Isabelle DeBruin was 103rd in 27:38.26.