Fast Start / North freshman is The Republic Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year

After not running as well as she wanted during her eighth-grade track season, Brianna Newell wasn’t overly confident going into her freshman cross-country season.

But this fall, Newell turned in a big year for a Columbus North team that finished fifth in the state. She won Brown County Sectional and North Regional titles and is this year’s The Republic Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

"I think it went really well, compared to where I was in eighth-grade track and summer training," Newell said. "I was kind of down from track."

Because of that, Newell had modest goals coming into high school cross-country.

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"I wanted to at least be varsity," Newell said. "That was the goal. I’m happy to be able to be where I was. I really liked how our team did, and I’m excited for the next three years."

Newell finished sixth in the Brown County Semistate and 36th at the state finals.

"Based on her junior high and her work ethic and her summer, we expected her to be very good, and she met those and exceeded those expectations," North coach Rick Sluder said. "She ran like a junior instead of a freshman. She showed maturity and ran well in big races. I would say she’s one of the top four or five freshmen in the state this year, which sets her up for a great next three years."

Sluder pointed to a quote from longtime North coach Rick Weinheimer that says, "Hard work, given time, beats talent."

"I tell Briana, ‘Hard work and talent, given time, makes a champion,’" Sluder said. "I feel like she embodies all that. She has the talent, and she puts in the work."

Newell joins her brother, North sophomore Matt Newell, who was named The Republic Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year on Tuesday.

After taking a couple weeks off at the end of the cross-country season, Brianna Newell is back running and training for track.

"I want to be able to do what I did in cross-country in track, maybe even a little better, now that I’ll be used to the training and intensity and all of that," she said. "I’m so excited for track."

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The 2019 The Republic All-Area Girls Cross-Country team:

Brianna Newell, Columbus North: The freshman won Brown County Sectional and North Regional titles and finished sixth in the Brown County Semistate and 36th at state.

Mackenzie Barnett, Columbus North: The junior finished second in the sectional and regional, third at semistate and 44th at state.

Olivia Morlok, Columbus North: The senior finished third in the sectional, eighth at semistae and 33rd at state.

Lily Baker, Columbus North: The freshman finished fourth in the sectional, seventh at semistate and 42nd at state.

Ellen White, Columbus North: The freshman finished ninth in the regional, 55th at semistate and 125th at state.

Jessica Meza, Columbus North: The freshman finished sixth in the sectional, seventh in the regional, 35th at semistate and 145th at state.

Aric Tong, Columbus North: The junior finished 16th in the sectional, fifth in the regional, 79th at semistate and 189th at state.

Hadley Gradolf, Brown County: The freshman finished eighth in the sectional, third in the regional, 12th at semistate and 57th at state.

Emelia Koester, Brown County: The sophomore finished 11th in the sectional, 18th in the regional and 76th at semistate.

Chloe Krueger, Columbus East: The freshman finished 13th in the sectional, 14th in the regional and 64th at semistate.

Emma Morrison, Jennings County: The senior won the Southwestern (Hanover) Sectional and finished fourth in the regional and 26th at semistate.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Abby Fleetwood, Anna Fleetwood. Columbus East: Laurel Knight, Olivia Linnemann, Olivia Shoaf. Columbus North: Kennedy Kerber. Jennings County: Halle Franks, Elizabeth Wahlman.