The Amherst girls cross country team was led by two freshmen to advance to the regional championship for the 26th time in the past 27 years.
The team took fourth place in the district, earning the last regional-qualifying spot behind Magnificat, Rocky River, and Avon.
Freshman Kalyn Potyrala led the Lady Comets for the first time, finishing 22nd with a time of 21:11. She was followed closely by freshman Leah Johnson, who finished 24th.
“It felt good to be leading the team to regionals. It was different to not see anybody else from Amherst in front of me,” said Potyrala. “I’m looking forward to maybe leading the team again and to break 20:00 at Tiffin this weekend.”
The team was rounded out by Ashley Hill, Alana Moore, Ally Potyrala, Megan Parker, and Mariah Watson.
The team’s strong tradition of qualifying for regionals was helpful to the girls’ success.
“I think when you have a tradition like that, it can be a very motivating thing. As an athlete, you want to be part of something special, and having a chapter of that tradition written with your name on it is something you will always remember,” said head coach Terry Kemp.
“The tradition of going to regionals motivated me because I did not want to let my team down if we did not make it,” said Ally Potyrala.
Kemp plans to keep his training plan relatively consistent for the next week in order to prepare for the regional meet. The team will, however, experience some taper in its training.
“The real work has been done over the last five months. Now we just sharpen and prep for Saturday,” said Kemp. “We need to let the taper work its magic. We have a history of running well in this meet. The power of belief and tradition can really create something special.”
Amherst will compete in the regional championship on Saturday, Oct. 31 at Hedges Boyer Park in Tiffin.
K. Potyrala (22nd, 21:11); Johnson (24th, 21:16); Hill (25th, 21:17); Moore (26th, 21:18); A. Potyrala (29th, 21:26); Parker (30th, 21:28); Watson (35th, 21:55).