LIMA – There’s nothing sweeter than competing at home.
It’s even more special when it’s the final time.
Lima Central Catholic senior Emily Sreenan, the 2016 Division III cross country state champion, wanted so badly to run on the Faurot Park course for the final time before moving on to the next level.
For Sreenan, the Faurot Park course has not only been LCC’s home course, but it’s also been the place she’s ran away from the competition throughout her illustrious high school career.
Sreenan came into Tuesday’s Allen County Invitational as the three-time defending champion.
However, there was an added obstacle in Sreenan’s way this year.
Sreenan has been hampered with a stress fracture for the past few weeks, and the idea of competing in this season’s Allen County Invite wasn’t a sure thing.
However, Sreenan taped it up and made one final run on her favorite course on Tuesday. The result was her fourth Allen County title.
Sreenan took the lead early and never looked back, as she won in convincing fashion, with a time of 21 minutes, 2.3 seconds on the very hilly 5,000-meter course.
Shawnee’s Lexie Marshall was a distant second place, with a time of 21:44.1.
For Sreenan, there was literally no doubt that she would run Tuesday night.
“I was like, ‘I’m running Allen County’,” Sreenan said with a smile. “But the trainer, the coach, the parents, the LCC community, really didn’t think this was a good idea. So, a shout out goes to my trainer for taping me up and letting me run today, because she wasn’t going to let me. But, she knew how much this meant to me.
“I love this race so much, and it’s my home course. It was the last time I was going to be able to race on it. I wanted to come out here and race along with the boys.”
Longtime LCC coach Mike Griffo, said it was a tough decision on whether or not to let her run Tuesday night.
“It was a last-minute decision, along with the trainer, her Dad and with me,” Griffo said. “We decided to let her go ahead and run. She looked like she got through it OK. She’s definitely tired, but she hasn’t raced in two-and-a-half weeks. I’m sure that for the next couple days, she’s going to be a little sore. We’ll have to take it one step at a time.”
On the boys’ side, it was Sreenan’s teammate, sophomore Quentin Potempa, who ran away with the boys’ title.
Potempa took control in the second half of Tuesday’s race, and went on for the win in 18:10.1. Bath’s Vincent Abrams stayed in the hunt throughout, finishing second in 18:18.9. Bath’s Caden Schmidt finished third (18:21.6).
“I’ve really been working hard for it,” Potempa said. “I knew, looking at times (coming in), that it was going to be pretty close.
“I just really tried to use the hills to my advantage, because I have a lot of experience with it. I tried to use this to my advantage in order to open up that gap.”
For Potempa, winning the Allen County Invite was extra special, since he did it the same day as Sreenan.
“We talked about how awesome it would be to finish off her senior year like this (with a win). It’s something we really have been working for,” he said.
In the final team standings, it was Shawnee notching both the boys’ and girls’ titles.
For the boys, Shawnee took first (37 points), while Bath was second (67). Elida finished third (81), while LCC (100) and Lima Senior (132) rounded out the top five teams. Spencerville finished sixth (138), Bluffton was seventh (155) and Allen East was eighth (228).
On the girls’ side, there were just two full teams that figured into the scoring. Shawnee won with 26 points, while Bath finished second (30).
“Faurot Park is a tough course,” longtime Shawnee coach Russ Holly said. “And again, we’ve been training through, because we have the league (Western Buckeye League Championships) coming up in a little more than a week. The kids ran pretty solid today.
“With the girls, I had a couple girls do what they needed to do in order to come out with the No. 1 trophy. … They had to pass people.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.