Because of hot weather, Garaway cross country coach Chuck Zobel decided to keep his teams out of the running August 27. With his teams chomping at the bit, the Pirates attacked the course at the Newcomerstown Cross Country Invitational Saturday, Sept. 3, and they were more than ready.
“We held them off in week one because it is always so hot early in the year, so we decided to save them and start a week later,” said Zobel. “They were really itching to get things going. They want to see where they are. I think they came away feeling good about the performance today.”
Perhaps no one was more ready than senior Ariel Wentworth. Wentworth is coming off a state track and field meet where she gained All-Ohio honors, and after having run at state the past three years, she was waiting for an opportunity to get the new season under way.
She did so in style, quickly moving to the front of the pack and strolling home in first place to capture the gold.
“Wentworth ran smooth and easily, although she said it was anything but easy, as runner-up Emily Schworm of East Knox continued to push the pace.
“I would call that anything but easy,” said Wentworth with a laugh. Every time we ran across the pavement, and there is a lot of pavement on this course, I keep hearing her go across right after I went across, so she definitely pushed me.”
Wentworth’s time of 19:03 was a new PR, bettering her previous best by six seconds. She said she knew the victory was within grasp coming in, and felt confident she would at least have been near the front.
“I could not wait to get out here and compete,” said Wentworth. “I have been counting down the days to today all week. I have bee so excited, and it has been too long since we ran.”
Having set her sights quite high in the past several seasons and come up just shy of her goals, Wentworth said that despite her All-Ohio status and tremendous experiences at the state cross country meet, she has actually downgraded her expectations this season.
“This year, I decided to just take what comes, enjoy the experience and roll with it,” said Wentworth.”
“This was big for Ariel to come out here and set a tone,” said Zobel. “She has worked incredibly hard, and for her to come out the first time out and get things done really sets a positive note for her season and builds confidence.”
Zobel said the team’s work ethic over the summer was exemplary. Dealing with some minor health issues, Zobel said he relied on his squad to work on their own. They did so, getting up at 6 a.m. each morning to work out together.
“They did that all on their own. Nobody had to tell them to work hard and work together.”
Pirates junior Jocelyn Miller ran extremely well, coming in fourth in 19:56.85, while classmate Lindsey Goehring also medaled, placing 11th in 20:56.78.
“Talk about heart, that kid has a ton of it,” said Zobel of Gohring. “She just grinds away and wants to do whatever she can to help this team be successful. And I thought Jocelyn ran a really gutsy race.”
Claudia Miller (22:13) placed 28th in the field of 117 runners, with freshman Rylee Wilhelm was 32nd (22:58).
Garaway’s accumulation of 70 points was well off the pace of champion Fredericktown’s 44 points, but Caldwell did manage to slip past the Lady P’s, placing second with 55 points. Dalton ran well, taking fifth place with 115 points, placing three runners in the top 20.
Latrice Schlabach, a Dalton freshman, ran very well, placing 14th in 21:24.40. Madee Kutz (21:32) and Seneca Doty (21:41) placed 17th and 20th, respectively.
Hiland was missing its tip threat in Melissa Hostetler, so it was Brooke Miller who led the Lady Hawks with her 65th-place finish (25:23).
Sandy Valley was also paced by a freshman, Kianah Sarver, who placed 16th (21:31). Tuscarawas Central Catholic junior Sydney Lorentz paced the Saints with a 35th (23:16), Malvern’s freshman Makayla Butler ran to 38th (23:34) and Strasburg’s Jewel Lewis led the Tigers with a 51st place finish in 24:22.