The Lady Pioneers’ Evie McDaniel (422) tries to surpass Fairfield Union’s Brenna Reed (429) during the OHSAA Division II cross-country championships. (Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
The Jonathan Alder girls cross-country team completed a four-year stretch of state meet berths this past Saturday.
The Lady Pioneers placed 19th during the Division II race that was held at Fortress Obetz in Columbus.
That spot was close to what coach Justin Creps and his squad were anticipating for during the race.
“We were hoping to be somewhere in the 14-18 range, based on the results we’d seen this season,” said Creps. “There were a lot of really good teams around the state this year in Division II, so we knew being in the top 10 probably wasn’t a realistic goal at this time.”
Minerva claimed the top spot in the girls team race with 136 points.
Granville was the runner-up with 139.
The Lady Pioneers tallied 418 for their finish.
Jonathan Alder’s placing was contributed by Eliza Streit (51st, 19:38.4), Reggan Gray (114th, 20:51.3), Kailyn Greiner (134th, 21:18.1), Lauren Wynk (145, 21:35.5), Emma Kennedy (160th, 22:00.0) and Avery Wynk (164th, 22:08.5).
Evie McDaniel, who was one of the team’s top runners this fall, was not able to finish the race.
The past three years, Alder has finished 13th (2018), 16th (2019) and 11th (2020) in the state meet.
Although Jonathan Alder finished one spot away from this year’s goal, Creps said he wasn’t surprised.
“The longer you coach, the less surprised you get by results,” he said. “Anything can happen in big meets like this.
“We were certainly hoping to finish a little higher in the standings and on a different day, we might have,” said the coach. “Saturday didn’t go 100% our way (with McDaniel not being able to finish).
“We had a few tough breaks that I’m proud of our team for fighting through,” said Creps. “The girls gave it their all and had a positive experience at the state meet.
“I’m happy for that.”
The coach also said this year’s team helped continue the legacy of the program.
“We certainly sustained the culture of hard work and strong relationships,” said Creps. “That’s what we aspire to achieve with Jonathan Alder cross-country.
“It was another great year and I’m really proud of these girls,” he said. “They were the first girls team in Jonathan Alder cross-country history to win a district championship.
“That was a special accomplishment.”
With a four-year history of state meet qualifications, are there any ideas for 2022 and beyond?
“Specific goals aren’t something we choose to spend too much time or energy on,” said Creps. “Our goal is simple… try our best to be better than we were yesterday.
“As long as we’re taking care of that, the results will follow.
“That being said, we have both conference and district titles to defend and I’m sure we’ll want to extend our state qualification streak to five years.”
Gray was the only senior among the varsity’s top seven runners during the 2021 season.
However, McDaniel is a junior who will be graduating early.
Greiner, a freshmen, will also leave as she is moving out of the district.
Still, the Lady Pioneers will have a solid nucleus next year.
“We’ll have a hard-working, experienced group of seniors who are a great core to build a team around,” said Creps. “We also had some very talented eighth-graders this year and we’re excited to have them as freshmen on the high school team next year.”