CELINA — For Celina senior Lauren Jackson, being able to compete this cross-country season at a high level, is one of her goals.
Last fall, Jackson participated in just one 5,000-meter cross country race, because of an injury.
At Saturday’s Celina Rotary Invitational on the campus of Wright State University – Lake Campus, Jackson took the lead in the Division-I, II girls race early, and went on to cross the finish line first in a time of 20 minutes, 51.30 seconds. Emily Fuelling from Bellmont (Decatur, Ind.) finished a close second in 21:06.45. Kenton’s Sammie Unger came in third (21:17.74).
“I took it (the lead) early on,” Jackson said. “It was around the 1,000 (-meter mark), when I took the lead. Then I kept it up after that. Towards the end, I felt like I was in control of it. I felt good about it.”
Once Jackson claimed the lead, she wasn’t too concerned about the rest of the field of competitors.
“I try not to worry about it too much. I just try to worry about myself and how I feel,” she said.
As a team, Celina won the title Saturday in the D-I, II race. The Bulldogs placed their five scorers in the top 14 overall spots for a 39-point total. St. Marys finished second (58), while Kenton (78) and Bellmont (90) rounded out the top four teams in the seven-team field.
Behind Jackson were teammates Caleigh Ross (21:25.48, fifth), Sara Wenning (21:32.12, sixth), Ashley Robinson (22:48.32, 13th) and Kennedy Newell (22:59.57, 14th).
“I’m really impressed at how our team did today,” Jackson said. “We really did well. We have a lot of young girls. I’m just excited about the rest of the season.”
In the boys D-I, II race, Bellmont placed six runners in the top 10 spots, en route to the team crown. Bellmont recorded 24 points, while New Haven (Indiana) finished second (62). Celina (79) and St. Marys (109) came in third and fourth, respectively, in the 10-team field.
Bellmont’s Justin Gephart (16:43.89) and Kyle Lawson (16:56.78) went 1-2.
Longtime Bellmont boys coach Randy Hisner said his squad paid its dues during the offseason.
“I’m just really pleased with this group. Their performance today was outstanding. They worked hard over the summer. Most of my varsity guys had really good summers. I’m glad to see them succeed, because they deserve it,” he said.
In the boys D-III race, Fort Loramie won the title, defeating second-place St. Henry 34-54. Parkway finished third (79), while South Adams (Ind.) rounded out the top four (111) in the nine-team field. Fort Loramie claimed the top two spots, with Jake Rethman (16:52.86) and Joe Ballas (17:08.99) leading the way.
In the girls D-III race, Fort Loramie edged out South Adams for the top spot, 38-66. Marion Local’s Kelsey Broering won the race in 20:09.36.
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