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Her Kentucky home

McDonald’s Guerra commits to Wildcats’ program

Correspondent file photo / Michael Taylor McDonald’s Anna Guerra finished second in the Division III girls 3,200-meter run in the 2019 state championships in Columbus. Guerra signed her National Letter of Intent to run cross country and track and field at the University of Kentucky.

McDONALD — Eight laps around the track. For Ohio high school runners, that means the 3,200-meter run.

Anna Guerra knows the steps all too well. She took to the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium track on June 1, 2019. The scarlet, all-weather surface was below her feet. White lines separated each of the nine lanes. After the first lap, Lane 1 became the focus as each runner ran close to the grassy infield.

Guerra saw Springfield Catholic Central’s Addie Engel in front of her. It stayed that way as Engel won the Division III girls state 3,200 title, and Guerra took second. Both are currently seniors. Guerra’s time was 10:57.44, about 5 seconds behind Engel. It was a personal-best time for the McDonald distance runner.

Colleges noticed. Mid-American Conference schools in Ohio were interested in Guerra. She even took official visits to Tennessee and West Virginia.

Guerra eventually decided and signed with the University of Kentucky.

Kentucky was home to Sydney McLaughlin — a professional hurdler, who won the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships in the 400-meter hurdles.

Abby Steiner from Dublin Coffman High School is a 16-time state champion in indoor and outdoor track. Steiner, a Kentucky sophomore, is also the Ohio state high school record holder in the girls indoor 60-meter dash, indoor and outdoor 200 and outdoor 400.

Guerra is looking forward to being a Wildcat.

“It means so much to me,” she said. “I loved all the girls when I met them on my visit. It is such an honor to be apart of that program. I am looking forward to this challenge.”

Chris Rupe, McDonald’s distance track coach, said for Guerra to go to Kentucky is a good thing for the Blue Devils.

Former McDonald runner Malina Mitchell is currently a redshirt freshman at West Virginia, while current McDonald senior Bella Wolford recently signed with Kent State University.

“We’ve know Anna is extremely talented, hard-working and has done some great things during her years at McDonald,” Rupe said. “I’m glad to see a lot of prestigious school recognizing that. Her making the decision to Kentucky is exciting.”

Guerra, who said she plans to major in something in the health care field, will run cross country and track and field at Kentucky. She runs about 19 minutes in the 3.1-mile trek around the grassy surfaces during the fall cross country season.

She prefers doing the 3,200 during track and field season, but likes running the 1,600 as well.

The spring high school sports season is in limbo due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has shut down all schools in Ohio for at least three weeks — including suspending all sports-related activity. Gov. Mike DeWine has not ruled out school not returning for this academic year.

For now, Guerra is planning to run.

“I feel like I am better at the longer distance races,” Guerra said. “I have never done the 1,600 after districts, so I’m not sure how I would do at the state level. But, I’m hoping to be back in Columbus to run the 3,200.”

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