State meet was always on Wildcat runners’ radar

J. Patrick Eaken

The Woodmore cross country team got redemption at the Division III district meet, finishing second to advance to last weekend’s regional meet.
        Second may not seem like total redemption, but the Wildcats advanced to Saturday’s regional in Tiffin and finished ahead of Genoa, which narrowly defeated the Wildcats at the Northern Buckeye Conference meet. The Comets finished fifth at the district meet.
        At the Owens Community College campus in Findlay, Liberty Center won the meet with 42, points, followed by Woodmore (97), Carey (122), Hopewell-Loudon (124), Genoa (126), Van Buren (132), Gibsonburg (163), Ottawa Hills (213), Patrick Henry (218), Evergreen (233), North Baltimore (267), New Riegel (343), Elmwood (345) and Toledo Christian (369).
        Three Woodmore runners, junior Ava Beam, freshman Olivia Vogelpohl and junior Olivia Thatcher finished fourth, fifth, and sixth out of 96 runners with times of 20:15.87, 20:17.32 and 20:30.27, respectively. It has been those three girls at the lead all season.
        “They are the hardest workers and most dedicated to the team,” said Woodmore coach Mike Moreno.
At the NBC meet, Vogelpohl (19:53) was the individual champion, followed by Beam (19:53) and Thatcher (20:21). Genoa narrowly defeated Woodmore 37-39, followed by Eastwood (63), Elmwood (95), Otsego (124) and Rossford (176).
The trio had one ultimate goal this season — reach the state meet.
        “They each ran all the workouts in a summer training program that we created to prepare them for the long haul of our season in hopes to prepare them to finish at the state championships,” Moreno said. “We do weekly goals with the entire team — both individual and team goals and they all have goals of reaching the state championships as individuals but mostly as a team.
Moreno says those three girls have been working hard, and long before the fall season began.
        “The three girls train together all season and feed off each other. Almost every practice they run three abreast no matter what type of run or if one of them isn’t feeling it that day. Even when we give them different paces to hit they don’t let the other two get away. We try to get them to not be competitive at practice, but when one makes a move the other two cover it right away.”
        There are reasons for their success, and one of them is because any one can step up on any given day.  
        “Ava Beam has led the majority of the season, but Olivia Vogelpohl gained some confidence as she won the second NBC jamboree and Fostoria Invitational when we decided to rest Ava and Olivia Thatcher,” Moreno said.
        “Ava is talented and can run with the best girls in the area and the state. She needs a little more confidence and a good taper to show her full potential. She does all the little things right and is a great role model for our young team. Ava is our team captain, but the other two are also looked up to by everyone because they all lead by example.”
        “Thatcher is the competitor in that group and has big goals for herself and the team. She makes sure to push herself and her teammates to their best.
        “Vogelpohl is reserved and is just starting to show confidence and hopefully coming off the Fostoria Invite and NBC championship wins will bolster that. She never complains and we believe there is more in the tank that we haven’t seen yet.”
        Moreno says he has some help on the coaching end, which has brought something to the table that he can’t replace.
        “My assistant coach Lacy Seamans, is a very knowledgeable and experienced runner,” Moreno said. “She runs the majority of the workouts and gets and gives feedback to each athlete. We bounce everything off each other and work very well together. There is no one more dedicated or qualified to take over the reins of our program since I am stepping down at the end of this season.”
        As far as that NBC meet, Moreno says the trio is not happy they didn’t bring home the title, but it was a learning experience. Plus, the Beam-Vogelpohl-Thatcher trio did bring home the top three spots.
        “If they ran the same way they did last time at Genoa in the first jamboree, it was going to be a toss-up between the three for top honors,” Moreno said. “It came down to a sprint and I think any of them would have been happy for the other two teammates to win. They just wanted as few points as possible to repeat as NBC champs which they just missed by two points.
        “As much as we thought about holding them back a little, we wanted them to keep the competitive fire to prepare for the meat grinder of the postseason.”
        The other four runners are freshman Jordan Beam, sophomore Kristen Davis, sophomore Angela Dickerson and junior Julia Cable. Beam finished in 29th at the district meet, and would have played a big role if the Wildcats qualified for state as a team. If not, Moreno is confident that his top three runners can qualify as individuals.
        “The top three all have potential to move on as individuals as well,” Moreno said. “They just need to focus on running with or ahead of the same girls they have been all season and the places should take care of themselves. 
        “Having three low sticks will definitely help the team the next few weeks. Jordan Beam is making big moves in that fourth spot and is a very gritty runner who puts her all into every race. If we can get our five to seven runners within a couple minutes from Jordan, they will be dangerous.”


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