OBETZ, Ohio — It was simply an example of the ups and downs of competition.
River Valley junior Lauren Twyman earned All-Ohio honors, while Gallia Academy senior Sarah Watts struggled to the finish line on Saturday afternoon at the 2020 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II girls cross country championships held at Fortress Obetz in Franklin County.
The Gallia County duo were the only athletes from the Ohio Valley Publishing area to partake in the annual state meet this fall, and both were making repeat appearances at the top level of competition within the Buckeye State.
A pair of top-10 finishers individually at both the district and regional meets this year, Watts and Twyman were both well within striking distance of top-30 placements — which ultimately served as the cutoff point for All-Ohio honorees.
In fact, through two miles of the race, Watts was 19th and Twyman was 22nd overall as they headed into the back stretch of the event.
Twyman eventually moved ahead of Watts in the final mile and ultimately ended up 21st with a time of 19:11.9. Watts battled cramps and fatigue over the final mile and placed 39th overall with a mark of 19:45.0.
Twyman — who placed 82nd last year at state with a mark of 20:10.3 — moved up 61 positions in the final standings this year, as well as improving her time by almost a full minute.
And, as the junior noted afterwards, the experience from last year’s state final at National Trail Raceway paid dividends … even if she does like the Fortress Obetz course better.
“This course is a lot better than the one last year. The experience of the bigger crowds for this event helped, but I was a lot more focused on the race this time. For sure,” Twyman said. “I’ve worked a lot harder this year and I moved up a ton of spots from last year’s state meet, so I feel like the work paid off. My goal was to earn All-Ohio honors, and I did that.
“I wish I could have had more than nine people here to be part of this with me today, but I’m also glad that COVID-19 didn’t shut this season down. I’m leaving here with even more motivation to keep improving.”
For Watts, it marks the end of a stellar 5K career with the Blue Angels. Despite her misfortunes over the final mile, the senior still moved up 31 spots and shaved 20 seconds off of her 70th place effort of 20:05.1 last fall.
Watts was disappointed with the final outcome afterwards, but she also acknowledged that she left everything on the course through some rather adverse conditions.
That was something that Watts was most proud of by day’s end.
“I knew what I came here to do and I hit my times through the first two miles. I was feeling pretty good about things going into that last mile, and then my body just started working against me,” Watts said. “I came here to do my best and finish up my senior year of cross country at the state meet, and that’s ultimately what I did. Things didn’t go how I wanted them to, but I ran my guts out today. It’s definitely something that I’ll remember.”
A total of 177 girls participated in the D-2 championship race. Lexington won the D-2 team title with 113 points, with Oakwood placing second out of 20 teams with 127 points.
Grace Hartman of Oakwood captured the D-2 individual girls title with a winning time of 18:04.1, which was one-tenth of a second ahead of runner-up Ella Gilson of Hawken.
Gilson was the 2019 D-2 state champion and Hartman was the runner-up last fall.
Woodridge defeated the 19-team field for the D-2 boys team crown after posting a winning mark of 113 points. Waynesville defeated Unioto by tiebreaker for the runner-up spot as both teams finished with 149 points.
Ryan Champa of Woodridge won the D-2 boys race with a time of 15:42.9, while Drennan Akins of CVCA was runner-up in the 168-competitor field with a mark of 15:49.8.
East Canton won the Division III boys team title with 126 points. Thomas Caputo of Fredericktown captured the D-3 boys title with a mark of 15:31.5.
West Liberty-Salem won the D-3 girls team title with 55 points. Caleigh Richards of Maplewood claimed the D-3 girls title with a time of 18:22.3.
Lakota West won the Division I boys team title with 73 points. Nathan Moore of Uniontown Lake secured the D-1 boys title with a time of 14:59.5.
Centerville won the D-1 girls team title with 128 points. Mia Robillard of Centerville captured the D-1 girls title with a mark of 17:58.5.
Visit baumspage.com for complete results of the 2020 OHSAA Cross Country championships held Saturday at Fortress Obetz.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.