Lakota East’s Kelsi Harris (No. 653) and teammate Jocelyn Willis (No. 658) helped the Thunderhawks to a runner-up finish in the Division I cross country state championships on Saturday. Greg Billing / Contributed

Lakota East girls notch program-best, runner-up finish at state cross country

Lakota East took a run at defending state champion Beavercreek and finished runner-up to the Beavers at the Division I state cross country championships on Saturday. The Thunderhawks pounded the turf at National Trail Raceway to finish with 121 points. Beavercreek scored 51.

It doesn’t sound as lopsided when considering Beavercreek is ranked No. 3 in the nation by both Milesplit and Dyestat. And after this season the Beavers graduate four seniors, including two-time individual champion Taylor Ewert.

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“We preached to the girls we were running to win today,” Lakota East coach Adam Thomas said. “We weren’t running to be second. We were hoping we had a shot but Beavercreek ran lights out today. Nobody was going to beat them. But I really think having that mentality of running to be the state champion is what landed them in that second spot.

“It was a weird feeling after the race. The girls should have been jumping up and down they were second. Because they wanted to be the state champions today they were a little somber. I told the girls, ‘Do you know what you just did? This is the best Lakota East has ever done at the state meet.’ Once I laid that out for them I think they got a little more excited.”

Lakota East juniors Kelsi Harris and Carly Spletzer finished 25th and 28th, respectively, to earn All-Ohio honors as top-30 finishers.

Senior Danielle Horter (38th), freshman Jocelyn Willis (40th), junior Paxton Oberhaus (46th), senior Hailey Wilson (73rd) and sophomore Cali Reynolds (113) rounded out the Thunderhawks lineup.

By comparison, Beavercreek placed four runners inside the top 10.

“We really wanted to put everything out there and I think we did that,” Harris said. “We’re definitely not disappointed but when you go out there to win … we just put it all out there. I think for us second is amazing. It’s the best in school history so I think we’re still really happy with our finish.”

Lakota East was making its third straight trip to the state tournament.

Lebanon junior Faith Duncan also competed in the D-I girls race and finished 13th. Her brother Sam Duncan matched her with 13th to lead the Warriors in the D-I boys race.

Sam Duncan was joined by teammates senior Aaron Guzman (90th), senior Thomas Clark (91st), junior Carter Davidson (135th), freshman Jesus Trejo (137th), freshman Jacob Fleig (158th) and junior Joey Shupe (184th).

Talawanda sophomore Kiefer Bell (43rd) and Lakota West junior Zachary Beneteau (102nd) also ran in the D-I boys race.

Badin sent a pair of runners in D-II with freshman Maura Mathews and her brother Owen Mathews, a junior. Maura finished 24th to make All-Ohio and Owen was 32nd.

“I’ve always wanted to run at state. He’s the one that got me running in the first place,” Maura said. “Running state with Owen is kind of like a dream come true.”

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