In one sense, the Garaway Lady Pirates fell short in their goal of capturing another Cambridge Div. II district title Saturday, Oct. 22.
But in the overall scheme of things, they will gladly accept where they finished and how they ran.
A gifted Tusky Valley team ran past Garaway to claim the overall team title, but a runner-up finish easily advanced Garaway to the regional meet, and with an improving team, the hope is that another celebration there is not far away.
Tusky Valley racked up an impressive 41 points, which handily got them by Garaway’s total of 60.
“Tusky Valley is a very talented team, and we knew that coming in,” Garaway coach Chuck Zobel said of the runner-up finish behind the Trojans. “I was hoping our second pack would be a bit closer to theirs in the end, but their second pack really came on today.”
Getting out of districts for both teams was almost a give, considering a whopping seven teams move on from the Cambridge district.
However, there is a lot more to running at this point in the season than simply moving on. Gaining confidence is also a big part of it, and the Lady P’s finished strong with the runner-up spot behind a talented Tusky Valley team.
But perhaps no runner gained more mojo that Garaway junior Jocelyn Miller, who continued her late-season surge, and burned to a PR time of 19:16 to take the individual runner-up spot behind Tusky Valley superstar Madisan DeBos, who destroyed the field with a winning time of 18:54. Her teammates Kathryn Geiser (20:10), Kaylyn Lloyd (20:29) and Sierra Williams (20:48) placed fifth, seventh and ninth.
Miller’s time was good enough to present a first for her, as she zipped past teammate Ariel Wentworth, an All-Ohioan who has been the Lady Pirates top runner all season.
“That felt good,” Miller said of the accomplishment. “That is the first time I have beaten Ariel this year, but she has been so great all fall. I am just excited to see us do so well.”
Wentworth didn’t exactly struggle, placing fourth in 19:41. However, that time was 21 second off of her time just one week earlier on the same course. But on this day the Cambridge track was muddy and sloppy and there was a tough wind. That made Miller’s PR effort all the more impressive.
Mallory Millet (21:26), a freshman who is gaining ground rapidly as the season winds down, continued her impressive run toward the front. She placed 17th in the field of 77, while the ever-present Lindsey Goehring (21:30) again ran well, turning in a 19th place effort. Also adding to the fine finish was Rylee Wilhelm (21:44), who placed 22nd overall, while Claudia Miller (22:17) finished 33rd. Summer Miller (22:51) rounded out the impressive team effort with a 40th place finish.
“We have seen some girls improve so much this season, and that has made a huge impact on our progress,” said Jocelyn Miller.
Goehring may be the ultimate grinder, a presence who is always right there near the top third, helping the Lady P’s to great heights. Not flashy, Goehring is a shining example of how solid, consistent contributions make a team better.
“I feel like I just need to be a positive influence,” Goehring said. “I want to be mentally tough and be there for my team. I am so proud of all of my team, and of how hard we have all worked. When I am out there, I am just trying to do whatever coach tells me to do, and I don’t think about points or where I am. My main focus is always on doing the little things that coach says will make me better, and where I finish and what my time is, that just comes with listening to him. What I do myself is not as important as what we do as a team.”
What they have done as a team is collect state appearances by the truckload. With their sights firmly set on gaining entry to a sixth state berth, Garaway is focused and ready to take that next step at regionals to continue the legacy of this Lady Pirates impressive program.