All-Ohioan Beam top runner for second straight year

J. Patrick Eaken

At the Division III girls state cross country meet, Woodmore senior Ava Beam finished 12th out of 176 runners, earning All-Ohio status.

Beam was in sixth place at the first split (5:42.7), seventh place at the second split (11:57) and finished in 19:06.7. 

The Woodmore girls team, in its second straight year qualifying for state, finished 11th out of 20 teams, one position better than last year, scoring 302 points. West Liberty Salem won the team championship with 55 points.

For the Wildcats, sophomore Olivia Vogelpohl finished in the upper half, crossing the finish line in 20:18.1. The ‘Cats other state runners were senior Olivia Thatcher (20:53.8), freshmen Madi Hammer (22:12.3) and Emma Hammer (22:24.3), junior Kristen Davis (23:25.1) and freshman Kylie Cordy (23:43).

Beam, who is the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Girls Runner of the Year for the second straight season, was pleased with the results even though she dropped a few spots during the state meet race.

“I am super proud of my team. It was just an amazing season and we won most of our meets, and everyone tried their best at practice every day and gave their all, and it really paid off,” Beam said. “I was just super happy with how the season went and how it ended, and I’m super proud of my team and how hard everyone worked.”

Beam’s personal record time of 18:59.09 this season is still over 30 seconds behind the 18:22.3 time won by individual champion Carleigh Richards of Mapletown, but the Woodmore senior had been concerned going into the meet, which was held in good conditions at Fortress Obetz south of Columbus.

During the season, she won nearly every meet and found herself often pacing by herself well ahead of the pack, so she had to get used to that. Then, she had to get used to running with the pack once again at the regional and state meet. 

At the regional meet in Tiffin, Beam finished eighth in 19:26.6, propelling the Wildcats to a fourth-place team finish, but she felt as if she had some ground to make up before state.

“I was really happy about it. I’ve never really ran by myself in races before, so I was so proud of myself for being able to push myself to run good times,” Beam said. “I began the season by myself and toward the end of the season for regionals I wasn’t too happy with my time so I was a little worried about going to state but I was super happy with my time at state and how I performed.”

At the district meet, Woodmore finished second, scoring 71 points to place behind champion Liberty Center (29). Beam (19:31.2) was fourth and Vogelpohl (19:53.85) eighth,

At the Northern Buckeye Conference meet, Woodmore took the top three places to breeze their way to a championship. Beam won an individual title in 19:55.44, Vogelpohl was runner-up in 20:11.35 and Thatcher was third in 20:42.37.

For the season, the Woodmore girls never finished lower than third place and ended the regular season with 59 wins and only four losses. 

Beam has seven individual wins while Vogelpohl has finished second to her in five of those races. At the two NBC jamborees, the Woodmore duo finished dead even but Seamans said race officials gave the title to Beam each time.

On Wednesday, Beam signed to run NCAA Division II cross country for the University of Findlay, which finished fifth at the G-MAC championships in 2019. 

Beam is impressed by Findlay coach Blaine Maag’s program. In six years involved with the Oilers’ track and cross country programs, Maag has coached his athletes to 14 all-American awards in the indoor/outdoor season including four national champions and two NCAA D-II records. But there were additional reasons why Beam is heading to Findlay, including academics.

“I knew I wanted to become a physical therapist, so I was looking ahead at schools and their physical therapy programs and Findlay has that, and I just really loved the team and the coach, and just that atmosphere there, so I’m really excited,” Beam said.

Beam is well-supported by her mother, Julie, and her father Ryan, who ran cross country at Lakota. During the spring, summer and fall, Ava typically runs about 30 miles per day, but she will be switching her attention to the Woodmore basketball team this winter. 

As a 5-foot-8 junior guard in 2019-20, she was voted an All-Press honorable mention selection after averaging 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, two steals and she made 67 percent of her free throws. 




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