Pickerington High School North runner Kristen Eisenhauer entered the Division I state girls cross country meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway physically ready for a strong finish to her prep career.
She also believed she was mentally prepared after being at state the previous two years.
After finishing with results that weren't what she was hoping for in the 2010 state meet at Scioto Downs and the first state meet at National Trail Raceway a year ago, Eisenhauer improved significantly in her third berth and placed 36th in 18 minutes, 51.63 seconds as Lebanon's Jacquelyn Crow was first (17:39.31).
"The past two (years at state) I've just been overwhelmed and I haven't run very well," Eisenhauer said. "I didn't run to my potential. I feel like I was ready physically (this year). I think the other two times I was right around 100th and (I was) hoping to finish somewhere around 50th this time."
Eisenhauer was 104th (19:47.9) at state as a sophomore and then overcame injuries throughout most of last season to take 96th (20:02.76).
She finished third (19:37.5) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 13 at Lancaster to lead the Panthers to a runner-up finish (59) behind Gahanna (40). Pickerington Central (77), Lancaster (105), Reynoldsburg (143), Grove City (155) and Newark (163) rounded out the standings.
Freshman Kat Lowe was the Panthers' No. 2 runner in the league meet (11th, 21:12.1), followed by senior Fayth Greegor (12th, 21:14.9), juniors Jordan Potts (16th, 21:34.3) and Sinclair Stockard (17th, 21:42.1), senior Cortney Palmer (19th, 21:44.2) and junior Kelsey Waite (23rd, 22:01.9).
Eisenhauer then was fifth (19:43.85) in the district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial as North placed fourth (106) behind champion Dublin Coffman (31).
In the regional Oct. 27 at home, Eisenhauer placed eighth (19:13.85) to advance to state as the Panthers were 10th (246) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (50).
Rounding out the Panthers' top five at regional were Greegor (50th, 20:34.3), Lowe (55th, 20:42.99), Stockard (75th, 21:06.25) and Potts (83rd, 21:20.49).
"The girls went after it (at regional)," coach Jim Langenderfer said.
"Fayth Greegor and Cortney Palmer had great final races and Kristen ran better than she did last year."
League title fuels year for North boys
The North boys team used a mix of experience and youth to win its second consecutive league championship.
The Panthers scored 47 points to capture the league title Oct. 13 as senior Brent Pritchard was sixth (16:41.3) to lead the way.
Their next four finishers all were underclassmen in sophomore Zach Zimmerman (eighth, 16:57.7), junior Nick Haghiri (10th, 17:22.3), sophomore Ryan Kronk (11th, 17:22.7) and junior Brian Lanier (12th, 17:23.9). Seniors Donald Sisco (20th, 17:45.9) and Nick Newman (23rd, 17:50.2) were next for North.
Senior Adam Honaker, who had been one of the team's top runners during parts of the regular season, missed the league meet because of an injury. He was North's No. 7 runner at district and didn't run at regional.
Pickerington North was runner-up (48) behind Westerville North (45) in the district 1 meet as Pritchard was third (16:59.01). Zimmerman (fifth, 17:07.56) and Kronk (sixth, 17:09.21) were close behind.
The Panthers then placed seventh (194) at regional. Pritchard placed 35th in 16:55.48, followed by Kronk (37th, 16:59.24), Lanier (38th, 16:59.53), Zimmerman (40th, 17:00.54) and Sisco (64th, 17:22).
"They all ran really well," coach Tim Starkey said. "They gave a lot. Their places were off a little (at regional) but they ran really, really hard. At this point it's so darned fast.
"It was a good year. Anytime you can win the conference and be district runner-up it's a good year."