Emch, Caprara excel at state cross country tournament

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Competing against the best Ohio had to offer, Eastwood’s Leah Emch earned all-Ohio honors for her efforts at the Division II state cross country tournament, finishing 14th out of 178 runners in 19 minutes, 14.35 seconds.
It was a great showing for the Eagles, who finished 12th in the state.
Haley Sponaugle was 57th in 20:18.72, followed by Talia Baum (82nd in 20:38.12), Z Ramsey (126th in 21:35.55), Cameron Sechkar (152nd in 23:33.23), Emily Payne (158th in 22:47.35) and Maggie Ramsey (161st in 22:57.28).
To give one an idea of just how good the Eagles are, finishing 12th in Ohio was a little disappointing for them. “I couldn’t be happier with the way things came together during the season,” said Eastwood coach Nathan Howard. “The state meet wasn’t our best day, everyone was a little off, and we didn’t run our best. Just one of those things; everyone was off, except for Leah, who was all-Ohio. The team was disappointed, but as for the season, I couldn’t be happier with the way they did.
“Leah was kind of coming on this season, and at regionals, she had the second-best time in school history. She was coming on, physically felt really good. At regionals, she ran one of our best times in years. A week later, something was just off. Finishing in 12th-place is very good, not ideal, but at the same time, I’m really happy with the progress we made.”
Baum was the lone senior of the group.
“She has a big personality; she only started running last year. I think she’s top 17 in school history with the 19:52 at regionals. She’s one of the untapped-potential kind of runners,” said Howard. “If she had been with us for four years, she might be the No. 1 runner. She’s a really good person to be around, so we’ll miss that.”
Another area runner who fared well was Gibsonburg’s Anthony Caprara, who finished 33rd out of 185 runners in Division III with a time of 16:42.75.
“Anthony was pleased with his race at state. He handled the experience very well and did not allow himself to become overwhelmed,” said Gibsonburg coach Beth Kohler. “He was only three spots away from All-Ohio honors as a sophomore, so I’m very proud of him.
“Anthony was dedicated to running this summer. He was smart about building his base mileage. Anthony is extremely positive and coachable. His confidence as a runner comes from believing in the process and from believing that hard work definitely does pay off.”
It wasn’t just Caprara who had a good season.
“Our boys team took great steps forward this season. Last season, they advanced to regionals and placed 21st. This season, they advanced again as a team and placed 12th,” Kohler. “In addition to being proud of Anthony for taking 10th and advancing to state, I was also extremely happy for senior Cyler Amor, who closed out his high school cross country career with his personal best.”
On the girls’ side, another of Kohler’s runners is Emelia Simmons, who was 56th out of 182 runners in 20:19.17 in Division III.
“This is the second consecutive year that Emelia qualified for state. Her road this season was a bit more challenging (because) she faced two falls during races this season — at the Seneca East Invite and at the SBC Championships,” Kohler said. “I was very happy that Eme overcame these challenges and enjoyed her state experience. She ran a solid race in difficult conditions.”
The team has come a long way, too.
“This is the third consecutive season that our girls team advanced to regionals, and this year they came extremely close to advancing to state as a team – at eighth place and just seven points shy (of a berth),” said Kohler. “In addition to Eme, several of our girls had excellent performances at regionals — sophomores Alayna Molter and Mary Ann Myerholtz ran their career P.R. (personal record), and I am so proud of senior Kara Long for finishing her high school career with her P.R. as well.”
Finishing one place behind Simmons was Woodmore’s Olivia Vogelpohl, who was 57th in 20:20.14.
“Olivia is an extremely talented runner with amazing range. She’s a 60 (seconds) flat 400 (meter) runner and can do crazy splits at the end of a long run,” said Woodmore coach Lacy Seamans. “Some of the difference makers this year for her were that she pushed herself in practice more than in the past, didn’t overthink her race plans and had a bit more confidence in herself.
“I was super proud of her performance. What the results and even the splits don’t fully show is how she went for it. She was up in the very front around 200 meters in,” Seamans said. “Some coaches might be upset about that, but that showed me she was going to give herself a chance at finishing as high as possible. She ended up fading in the heat, but it was still her highest state cross country finish.”


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