Badin siblings seek school records at state cross country meet

Officially, Badin freshman Maura Mathews became a member of the cross country team this past summer. But Mathews had been running with the Rams before that.

During the summer of 2018, Mathews joined her brother – junior Owen Mathews – and other members on preseason conditioning runs. And on Saturday, they’ll both be running again, this time at the Division II high school state cross country championships at National Trail Raceway near Hebron.

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Maura finished ninth at the regional last Saturday, navigating the 3.1-mile course on the Troy levee in wet, windy and miserable conditions. She crossed the finish line in 19:31.6.

Owen, competing in the fifth of six races on the afternoon, faced even more abysmal conditions as the course deteriorated. He finished 10th in 16:57.42.

“Both Maura and Owen are strong, healthy and at the peak of their training,” said Ann Gruenbacher, who coaches the team along with Steve Deitzer. “We look forward to them both running excellent races to finish their season and hopefully set new personal records at the state meet. The team is very excited to travel to Hebron to cheer on their teammates.”

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As for Owen, he’ll be chasing more than the D-II field. His father, Jeff Mathews, holds Badin’s school record for the fastest time at the state meet (16:33) and the second-fastest time overall (16:20) in Badin boys cross country history. Owen is 11 seconds behind his dad’s best time.

As for Maura, she’s the Rams first girls state qualifier since 2003. She also ran a 19:06 at the Greater Catholic League meet to break the school record of 19:24 held by Julie (Hoekzema) Knapp since 2003. Maura was also part of a senior-laden team that ran the fourth fastest team time in school history at the district.

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Talawanda: Sophomore Kiefer Bell is the first boy to qualify since Jesse Rhodenbaugh in 2000. Bell battled abysmal racing conditions in Troy last Saturday to finish ninth and keep the Braves' streak of state qualifiers going. Last season the girls program had its first state qualifier since 1988 when Maddy Iden advanced as a sophomore.

Lakota East: The Thunderhawks girls make their third straight appearance and fourth in the past six seasons. Seniors Danielle Horter and Hailey Wilson, juniors Kelsi Harris, Paxton Oberhaus and Carly Spletzer, sophomore Cali Reynolds and freshman Jocelyn Willis comprise the Hawks roster.

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East – which finished second at the regional Troy behind defending state champion Beavercreek – placed Willis (11th), Spletzer (14th), Horter (17th) and Harris (19th). On Saturday they make another run at Beavercreek, which is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the nation by Milesplit and Dyestat.

Lebanon: Senior Sam Duncan, the school record holder, leads the Warriors into their second appearance in three seasons. Prior to those trips in 2017 and this year, the Warriors last qualified for state in 1964 before the distance was 3.1 miles. Duncan makes the trip with fellow seniors Thomas Clark and Aaron Guzman, juniors Carter Davidson and Joey Shupe and freshmen Jacob Fleig and Jesus Trejo.

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Duncan, Clark, Guzman and Davidson were on the 2017 team, too. Trejo (16:52) and Fleig (16:58) are the two fastest freshmen in program history already beating Duncan’s freshman record time of 16:59.

For the girls, school-record holder and junior Faith Duncan (Sam’s sister) makes her second trip. She finished fifth her freshman year. Duncan did not qualify as a sophomore while recovering from a broken hip.

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Lakota West: Junior Zach Beneteau finished 12th at the regional to become the first Firebirds runner to qualify since 2011. He's dropped nearly 1:30 off his time from his freshman year.

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