When cross-country practice began this summer, Columbus East girls coach Leslie Weaver knew she’d be getting a quality freshman runner in Morgan Ketron.
Much to Weaver’s delight, the Olympians have two other freshman girls who have joined Ketron on the varsity squad. Kira Singer and Maddie Lyons, neither of whom ran cross-country in middle school, have provided a touch of youth to the program.
“They haven’t necessarily been a surprise,” Weaver said. “I knew that they would run varsity. Morgan Ketron and Kira Singer and (senior) Allie Newell have been rotating as to whosever (is) No. 1, and that’s been kind of a little bit of a surprise to me. I didn’t know that they would maybe be that far up.”
The freshman trio have played a big role in East’s development this season and will be a key factor in whether the Olympians can advance from today’s Brown County Sectional.
Ketron (Central), Singer (St. Peter’s) and Lyons (Northside) went to different middle schools, but Singer played travel basketball with Lyons and ran track with Ketron at Central since St. Peter’s does not have a track team.
“I knew Morgan was coming (to East) because she has been coming to our winter running programs since she was a seventh-grader,” Weaver said. “The other two have never run cross-country before. They both played basketball and were looking for a way to kind of stay fit until basketball season comes. It has been a blessing in disguise that they are part of our team.”
Ketron has had the most success so far this season. She has a personal-best 5K time of 21 minutes, 20 seconds.
“I didn’t really know how I was going to do at the beginning of the season,” Ketron said. “I had run with them in the summer, but it was unexpected.”
Singer, who has also spent time as the Olympians’ No. 1 runner, has been as fast as 21:34.
“I’ve never run cross before, but we’ve all been pushed really hard, so it really helps,” Singer said.
Lyons has been the team’s No. 7 runner most of the season. Her personal-best is 22:37.
“I was really surprised,” Lyons said. “At the beginning of the season, I had no clue how I was going to do. My brother (Tyler) just convinced me to run cross, so I just did it because I thought it would be fun to meet new people.”
Now, the trio have become close.
“We know everything about each other,” Singer said.
“It makes it a lot more fun because I know these girls, and they help me push myself,” Lyons said. “I’ve had a lot of fun this season, and I feel like our team as a whole had gotten really good, and we push each other.”
The top five boys and girls teams from the sectional move on to Saturday’s Brown County Regional. The top five from there advance to the Oct. 20 Brown County Semistate.
“I think we have a really good chance of getting out of sectional,” Weaver said. “We have a pretty good chance of getting out of regional. I’ve looked at teams and where we rank, and our goal for this year is to get to semistate.”