HEBRON, Ohio — All good things must come to an end.
Two of the most accomplished female runners in Gallia Academy history had their respective cross country careers come to a close Saturday afternoon at the Division II OHSAA state meet held at National Trail Raceway in Licking County.
Seniors Peyton Adkins and Mckenna Warner both wrapped up stellar prep careers in a fitting fashion, as the GAHS duo both earned All-Ohio honors by finishing in the top-25 individually. Adkins was 10th overall with a time of 18:44.14, while Warner placed 14th with a personal-best time of 19:04.58.
Both Blue Angels were four-time all-league competitors in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League, and the duo was also competing in their fourth consecutive Division II state meet. Adkins earned All-Ohio honors in all four state competitions, while Saturday was the first and only time that Warner had accomplished the feat.
For Adkins, it was her second-best finish at a state meet. Adkins was 8th as a freshman (18:59.04), 19th as a sophomore (19:42.78), and 13th as a junior (18:30.30). A four-time SEOAL champion and a two-time district champion individually, Adkins was satisfied with how her cross country career ended.
“I’m really thankful for how my high school career has turned it. I’ve accomplished a lot individually, and I’ve been a part of some great teams here at Gallia Academy,” Adkins said. “It’s been a lot of fun over the last four years, and I am thankful for the experience.”
Adkins and Warner both went to state as a team in 2008, when the Angels finished 13th at the 16-team event. GAHS won the SEOAL title that season, and again this past fall.
Warner wouldn’t be a four-time state qualifier had it not been for qualifying as a team her freshmen year, but she made the most of that experience — qualifying three times individually after 2008. Warner was 120th (21:45.06) as a freshman, 75th (20:49.88) as a sophomore, and she placed 55th last year with a time of 19:39.40.
Warner’s times and placements have gradually improved year-to-year, with Saturday being the crowning jewel for the future Shawnee State signee. In her words, it was a great reward for a lot of hard work.
“My goal was top 25. Fourteenth is absolutely amazing. And my goal time was 19:04, which is what I ran,” Warner said. “Everything was perfect Saturday, and I am truly happy with the way things went in my final race at Gallia Academy.”
Warner — a two-time SEOAL runner-up — also noted that Adkins has probably been the biggest influence on her running career, and that she was honored to finally join her in the elite ranks.
“Peyton has pushed me to get where I am today. She’s taught me to be more serious about the sport, and the results speak for themself,” Warner said. “Most schools cannot say that they have two really good runners in their program, and both of us came away with podium honors this week. I’m proud of Peyton and what she’s accomplished. It also feels really nice to be up there with her.”
It was a new enviroment for both seniors, as their three previous state meets were held at Scioto Downs in Columbus. The event had to be moved from Scioto Downs due to casino and gaming machines being installed at the facility, which ended a 26-year run as the home of the state CC meet.
Adkins, who is headed to Ohio University next fall, noted that the new atmosphere was a special experience that she will always remember.
“It was a nice change from Scioto Downs, although I have some great memories there,” Adkins said. “It was different, which made it unique in the fact that it was a new course and a new challenge. Someday I’ll be able to tell stories that I ran in the first state meet ever held there.”
London sophomore Sarra Taylor won the individual title in Division II with a time of 18:19.14. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary won the D-2 team crown with 89 points, finishing 11 points ahead of runner-up Zane Trace (100).
Gallia Academy has had a female competitor at the state meet in each of the last seven years, and the Blue Angels have won three SEOAL crowns over that same span. Adkins and Warner also join Lauren Adkins (2005-2008) as four-time state qualifiers during that seven-year run.
And as Warner noted, there is no reason that that streak should end anytime soon.
“We have some younger girls that can definitely stand out in this sport, if they are willing to work and believe in themselves,” Warner said. “They have some big shoes to fill next year, but they are very capable of continuing a strong tradition here at Gallia Academy.”
Complete results of the 2011 OHSAA cross country championships are available on the web at baumspage.com