CROSS COUNTRY Ashleigh Rowley Western Reserve girls

Ashleigh Rowley took 11th place in this year’s Division III state tournament in Hebron, cementing her status not only as one of the area’s finest runners, but also as an all-time great at Western Reserve.

The senior wrapped up her fourth straight state tournament appearance. In cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, she qualified for state competition seven times. She owns every school cross country record and the one and two-mile records in track.

“It’s very rewarding to go to a school where they value all of their athletes, whether its football to baseball or running,” Rowley said. “It’s nice to go to a school where they’re humble about it. They post things to social media, but don’t trash talk.

“They’re all very supportive, so it’s very rewarding to be part of something that’s very positive,” she added.

At Hebron, Rowley completed the National Trail Raceway Course in 18 minutes, 46.1 seconds. The time was seven seconds faster that her previous time at state, but she wasn’t thrilled with her finish.

“My best time this year was an 18:18 at a meet in Trumbull,” Rowley said. “I was hoping to go lower 18s at state, I should have been down there but somebody took control of the race and I wasn’t used to going out really fast. I just didn’t run my race.”

Rowley has multiple Division I college offers, with the Naval Academy as the front runner. She’ll make a final decision after completing the academy’s application process.

When Rowley started running in high school, Western Reserve’s program was rebuilding after going dark for four years. She enjoyed putting the Blue Devils back on the map.

“It was fun when you get to Columbus and officials go ‘Berlin Center? Where’s that?’” Rowley said.

Brian Dzenis

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