OTTAWA — Cross country can be a very demanding sport.
However, it can be even more demanding when the athlete is splitting time between cross country and soccer during the fall sports season.
Ottawa-Glandorf sophomore Alexa Fortman has found a way to compete at a high level in both sports.
At Saturday’s Division II district meet at Ottawa Memorial Park, Fortman jumped out into the lead and hung on down the stretch for first place on the 5,000-meter course, in a time of 19 minutes, 46.1 seconds. Fortman held off Wauseon’s Magdalena Duden (19:50.1) for the win.
Fortman’s stellar performance helped her team advance to next Saturday’s regional meet at Tiffin’s Hedges-Boyer Park. The O-G girls team finished fourth (120 points) Saturday. The top four squads at the Ottawa district meet advance to the regional meet. There were nine full girls teams at Ottawa.
Individually, any runner finishing in the top 16 overall spots in the girls and boys races Saturday, advance to the Tiffin regional.
Wauseon won the girls district team title Saturday with 41 points. Shawnee (80) and Van Wert (85) were second and third, respectively.
“I just wanted to run my race and not the other competitors’ (race),” Fortman said. “I just wanted to run for God’s glory, and not for my own.”
Fortman said she knew the pack of runners Saturday were not far behind her.
“I could tell they were kind of close,” Fortman said. “I knew I just needed to pick it up and push through to the finish.”
Fortman, who placed third at last week’s Western Buckeye League Championships, said it’s a challenge to balance soccer and cross country.
“I come to cross country (practice) like once or twice a week,” she said. “But I have to do a lot of running on my own.”
Fortman knew, coming into Saturday’s district meet, that she had a chance to win the individual title.
“I’m definitely very excited (to win). … I was ranked second (based on times), but I knew I had to go out and see what I could do. I just left it all on the course,” Fortman said.
The rest of O-G’s scorers Saturday included Madelyn Hovest (fourth, 19:57.8), Marissa Beckett (29th, 21:55.6), Morgan Inkrott (50th, 22:56.5) and Avianna Schroeder (53rd, 23:08.3).
Shawnee had two runners finish in the top nine overall spots Saturday.
Molly Stump led the way for Shawnee with a fifth-place finish (20:12.8). Teammate Alaina Williams placed ninth (20:45.9).
The rest of Shawnee’s scorers included Hanna Watt (20th, 21:31.8), Lena Parsley (22nd, 21:37.8) and Katie Curl (32nd, 22:04.5).
For third-place Van Wert, Tyra McClain led the way with an 11th place finish (20:56.9). The rest of Van Wert’s pack included Kyra Welch (14th, 21:10.3), Tayler Carter (19th, 21:31.5), Carly Smith (24th, 21:46) and Rachel Spath (25th, 21:47.2).
On the boys side, Wauseon slipped past Van Wert for the team title, 73-78. Defiance (81) and Shawnee (97) rounded out the top four teams, which all advance to the Tiffin regional.
Wauseon’s Braden Vernot won the boys race in 16:03. Bryan’s Joshua Taylor finished second (16:14.9).
Van Wert, which was coming off a sweep (girls and boys team titles) at last week’s WBL Championships, had two of its runners in the lead pack Saturday.
Hunter Sherer led Van Wert with a fourth-place finish (16:33.6), while teammate Asanke Steyer was close behind in sixth (16:42.2).
The rest of Van Wert’s scorers were Gage Wannemacher (16:50.7), Jacob Wasson (24th, 17:23.6) and Gage Springer (32nd, 17:42.4).
“Overall, it was good,” Van Wert head coach Ryan Holliday said. “Our goal was to get out (to regionals). We knew we had a chance (to win). We knew, especially on the guys’ side, that it would be a dogfight with Shawnee, Defiance, and of course, Wauseon. Wauseon was better than us today.
“I thought up front, we were strong. Our fourth and fifth (runners) weren’t right where we needed them to be, in order to win. … But again, we’re all moving on. It was tight today; and next week will be the same. It’s going to be another dogfight next week,” Holliday said.
Brennen Roehrig led Defiance with an eighth-place finish (16:45.2).
For regional-bound Shawnee, Isaiah Johns led the way with a seventh-place finish (16:43.6).
Noah Williams (ninth, 16:49.3), Justin Altenbach (21st, 17:18.5), Carter Cleaves (25th, 17:24.8) and Trevor Bowers (35th, 17:54) rounded out the Shawnee scorers Saturday.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.