LIMA — What a difference a year makes.
Last fall, Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan reached her ultimate goal when she led from start to finish at the state cross country meet, en route to the Division III state title, with a personal-best time of 18 minutes, 1.8 seconds on the 5,000-meter course.
Then, during the spring, Sreenan went on to qualify for the state track meet, where she competed in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
However, since postseason for track, Sreenan has been battling a couple different injuries.
The early part of the summer, Sreenan’s heavy training for cross country was put on hold as she tried to rehabilitate from IT band tendinitis.
Then, once she received the medical clearance to pick up the intensity, Sreenan began logging the much-needed miles in an effort to get back to her old form.
Unfortunately, Sreenan suffered yet another setback this fall as she developed a stress fracture.
For the past several weeks, Sreenan has been splitting her time between pool workouts and training runs, in her quest of returning to the state meet.
This past Saturday, Sreenan finished fourth at the Tiffin regional, stamping her ticket to this Saturday’s state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. The top 32 individuals at the Division III girls’ Tiffin Regional qualified for the state meet.
“I’ve been going to the ‘Y’ and going swimming in the mornings, trying to get my breathing up,” Sreenan said. “My legs are feeling OK, actually, especially when I’m running. My stress fracture doesn’t hurt as bad; but breathing-wise, I was dying at districts. Today (at regionals), I didn’t lose my breath nearly as early. I felt good the entire race.
“I ran a 20:17 at districts and I was in the low 19s today (19:23.08 at regionals). So, I definitely dropped a lot of time. I’m getting closer. I’m not sure if I’ll get all the way back to 18:01, but I’ll just leave it all out on the course at state. It’s my last one.”
Sreenan has progressively improved the past few races.
“She’s had two key injuries this year – one from track and then one from possibly trying to come back, and maybe working a little bit harder than she should have,” longtime LCC coach Mike Griffo said. “She’s worked her way through it, with the athletic trainer and training with me a couple times a week. She’s done pretty well. I’m very pleased with the difference between last week and this week. Last week (at districts), she looked spent when she crossed the line. Today (at regionals), she ran better and faster, and she had a smile.”
Added Sreenan, “To win (a state title) is always on my mind, and I would love to. But I also know that if it doesn’t happen, I worked, I did everything I could. I’m going to leave it all out on the course.”
for state meet
At the Tiffin regional, the Columbus Grove girls’ team placed third and qualified for the Division III state meet. The top eight teams in the girls’ Division III Tiffin Regional advanced to state.
Leading the way for Columbus Grove at Tiffin was sophomore Alyssa Ellerbrock, who finished seventh overall in a time of 19:29.99.
However, Columbus Grove is not satisfied at just getting down to the state meet. Columbus Grove girls’ coach Jason Jay is hoping his team will peak out this weekend and run its best race of the season.
“Hopefully, we’re a week away,” Jay said. “Really, today (at regionals), you can’t take anything away with times, because of the weather. But the way they competed today, I was really proud of that. We had a runner in the top 10 and then the other six girls were real close. So, that’s really what it’s going to take to hopefully get a top-five performance.”
to battle once more
At the Tiffin regional, Ottoville senior Brendan Siefker got a rematch with last year’s Division III state champion, Colonel Crawford’s Chad Johnson. Last season, Siefker finished second to Johnson at the regional and state meets.
At Saturday’s regional, Johnson pulled away from Siefker around the first mile and went on to win the race in 15:48.91. Siefker finished in 15:55.80.
look to defend
The Minster girls are poised to defend their 2016 state title.
This past Saturday, Minster won the Division III regional crown at Tiffin in convincing fashion.
Leading the way for Minster is sophomore Emma Watcke. In 2016, Watcke finished fifth at the state meet with a time of 18:36.8. This past Saturday, Watcke won the regional title at Tiffin in 19:00.10.
Watcke is focused on running her best on Saturday.
“If it happens, it happens (state title for Watcke),” she said. “I’m going to race my hardest and see what happens.”
Kalida senior Taylor Lucke finished 10th at the Division III regional at Tiffin in 19:38.86. With her solid performance at Tiffin, Lucke will be making her first trip to the state meet.
“I just really wanted to end on a good note,” Lucke said. “I worked really hard and I was really hoping (to make it to state), and I got it. So, I’m really happy.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.