Volpe leads area runners with 4th-place finish

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO St. Wendelin’s Sophia Volpe runs to a fourth-place finish in the Division III girls race at the state cross country meet in Hebron.

HEBRON — Distance running in track is different than cross country. It seems simple to understand, but people wouldn’t know the difference when watching St. Wendelin senior Sophia Volpe on the cross country course.

Volpe, who has reached state in distance running in track, decided a mere six weeks ago to run cross country.

It was a solid decision to say the least, as Volpe finished fourth in the Division III girls race at the state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway Saturday.

Volpe crossed the finish line in 18:32.1 to earn the title of the fourth-best runner in the state in just six weeks of running in the sport.

“I’m just blessed that God gave me the ability to run today,” Volpe said. “That’s all I have to say. It was beautiful weather today, so I’m thankful for that and I’m thankful for everyone who drove two and a half hours to come support me.

“I didn’t really know what to expect, but I always say whatever God gives you I’m going to do and that’s what happened. It’s just a lot different than track. I guess I expected it to be similar to track, but it’s a lot different. Cross country is just its own.”

Minster won the team title in the Division III race with 38 points, while Lime Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan won the individual title in a time of 18:01.8.

Also in the Division III race was Carey’s Keely Wentz, who placed 45th in a time of 19:42.4. Coming into the Division II race, Bellevue coach Lee Booze wanted to see his team finish in the top half of the results. It was a goal as a team.

However, Saturday rolled around and it didn’t really go as planned, with Bellevue finishing 19th with 454 points. But with five of the seven runners returning next season, Booze was happy his team got the experience of running at the state meet.

“I think the good weather made for a fast race and I think for us being our first time here, the experience was probably more valuable than the finish,” Booze said. “We had goals coming in. I think we ended up a little short after today, but when you look at it, five of the top seven girls coming back, we can leave here with a little fire and a little hunger.

“Without a runner who can run under 19:30, it becomes really hard to score up high because low scoring cards were getting eaten up. Our pack mentality, which worked for us most of the season didn’t really help here unless the pack was right up front.

“Wooridge won the team championship with 88 points, while Beachwood’s Leah Roter won the race in 17:55.1.For Bellevue, Taylor Waldecker was 85th (20:01.6), Lauren Turner finished 95th (20:10.1), Liz Ish was 100th (20:16.3), Madelyn Verhoff added a 134th (21:07), Lindsey Spurlock ended 142nd (21:24.8), Madison Raifsnider finished 164th (22:16.5) and Casey Santoro crossed the finish line 170th (22:55).

“It was big for Lauren to finish her senior year running with her teammates down here,” Booze said. “For Liz to get down here when she’s been so close throughout her athletic career was a good way to finish her career and for Taylor, who ran No. 1 for us today … what a way to springboard her into her senior year next year to lead the team a year from now. We will come away with a lot of positives today.

“I guess everyone who doesn’t win the state meet has to lose, right? That’s true of any sport, but if you look at the whole season, what a year we had. The number of invites we won. The league championship means so much to these girls and to finish last week as the regional runner-up was I think a real big surprise for them, so we will look back over the season and have a lot to be proud of.”

Also in the Division II race, Upper Sandusky sophomore Madelyn Shasteen finished 129th with a time of 20:58.7.