Ariel Wentworth has had an incredible high school running career at Garaway High School, and the senior Lady Pirate recently signed on to Taylor University to run with the Trojans’ program after graduation this spring.
Wentworth has blossomed into one of the all-time greats at Garaway, carving out her niche in a talented pool of cross country and track and field athletes.
Her coaches said that while Wentworth is a great athlete, who has achieved a lot, her personality and character far outweigh her All-Ohio status.
“We’ve always talked about this sport being something that helps prepare us for the next phase in life,” said Garaway cross country coach Chuck Zobel. “We are really happy she has picked a nice place to go where they have a very good program. Ariel has proven herself over the past four years. She has been a leader and she is such a team-first girl, who always is thinking of the needs of others before herself. That is what makes her so special.”
Garaway track and field coach Zach Mottice said Wentworth has experienced such a huge mount of success, both on the track and in the classroom, but she has never let any of that success go to her head.
“She is so well rounded, whether it is in the classroom, running or spiritually,” Mottice said of Wentworth. “She is so deserving of this, and it is always nice to see kids who work this hard reap the rewards they deserve. She is one of those leader kind of kids who carries herself so maturely. She makes it really easy to coach her, whether it is good times or bad. We are excited about having her one more time this spring, and I am sure she will do well in passing the torch to the next group coming along.”
Wentworth said the memories of her time at Garaway are something she will cherish, and she almost always alludes to the team effort rather than her own. She is quite happy to finally put to rest the chore of signing on with a college.
“I am just glad to be done with this,” Wentworth said of her signing. “This was a stressful decision to make, and I am really happy with the way I went with Taylor.”
Wentworth said a larger school was never in the cards for her, and she wanted to stay with a small rural school that fit her personality and upbringing. She narrowed her choices down to Taylor University, Roberts Wesleyan College, a Div. II school in Pennsylvania, and Milligan College, another NAIA school in Tennessee.
She eventually settled on Taylor, an NAIA school where she felt very comfortable.
“I really like the fact that they are a small Christian school. I never wanted to run at a Division I college. It’s too much, too overwhelming. I really liked the atmosphere of Taylor, and enjoyed the people there. It seemed special.”
Wentworth said she is double majoring in math and finance, on her path to becoming an actuary.
Combining her studies and running duties is something she is well accustomed to doing, so she feels it won’t be a huge stretch to continue that trend in college.
As for her career at Garaway, it isn’t over. She has the indoor season, and then will participate in t he Garaway track program, where she qualified for state last year and earned All-Ohio honors.
“I think I could ever replace my experience here at Garaway,” Wentworth said. “I received such amazing coaching support and guidance from people who wanted me to succeed. I got to run three years with my sister (Rachel, who is running at Malone University), so that was incredibly special. I am so proud to have been a part of a program that is so well respected, and (Zobel) is always talking about building our character and improving who we are as people before we worry about the running aspect.”
Wentworth’s final effort in her cross country career ended where she wanted to end, at the girls Div. III state meet in Hebron, but the race itself did not go the way she had hoped. With her sights set on a top 25 finish and All-Ohio status, she got clogged up well behind the leaders, and never challenged for a spot.
“It was a really weird day for me, because I have competed at state three times before, but I have always been there with my teammates,” Wentworth said. “I was the only Garaway female athlete competing, and that was really foreign to me. It didn’t feel comfortable. I’ve always said there is nobody I’d love to share this moment with than my teammates, but this year I think I really understood exactly what that meant.”
The race went out quickly, too quickly, and although Wentworth struggled mightily to hang near the front group, she couldn’t. It wasn’t exactly her style of race, and that made things even more of a struggle.
She said it never really clicked, and she could feel the opportunity fading away mid-race.
“You can do everything the way you hope to, but some days things just don’t click,” Wentworth said. “But I was blessed to be able to run at state all four years. I am grateful for that, and I owe that to my teammates. I won’t ever take that for granted.”