Eagle girls race to title

COLUMBIANA – The United girls cross country team is taking the lead of Allison Parks and racing to the front.

Parks repeated as the Columbiana County champion Tuesday in leading the United girls to their first county title since 2001.

“She’s so awesome,” United senior Elaina Zehentbauer said. “She’s such a motivator. She says everyone is important and every point counts.”

It sure counted Tuesday as United scored 44 points and edged out defending champion East Palestine by two points.

“I always say these girls will get everything for themselves,” Parks said. “I just try to do my best and they do they have to do. They are hard workers.”

The Eagles had only two runners in Parks’ freshman season. Now, they have rallied behind her.

“I think the one thing helping the girls and Allison is having a team,” United coach Ken Beaumariage said. “The girls finally realized Allison is going to bring home a No. 1.”

Parks dominated again, covering the 3.1-mile course at the Ward Athletic Complex in 20 minutes, 25 seconds. Lisbon junior Bobbi Jo Evans was 56 seconds back for her second county runner-up finish.

“It’s awesome every single time,” Parks said.

This year, the Eagles also were in the running for the team title.

“I think we knew we had a chance with Allison and everybody,” Zehentbauer said.

Every place counted for the Eagles as freshman Brynn Hofmeister was fifth, junior Natalie Gamble was seventh, senior Elaina Zehentbauer was 17th and junior Cheyenne Dolph was 18th.

“They’re right behind me in my mind,” Parks said. “They don’t know how much they are helping me out.”

The United girls ran right after the boys captured their third straight county title.

“They always say, ‘We have done it, you can do it, too,’” said Zehentbauer, whose brother finished second in the boys race. “I’ve had a lot of fun.”

“There’s a little bit of good competitiveness,” Parks said. “It’s nice having two good teams.”

Meet notes

Tuesday was a lot difference than the last time runners raced at the Ward Athletic Complex for a Suburban League meet on Sept. 10, when temperatures were in the 90s with high humidity.

“That was hard,” Parks said. “It’s a lot nicer today.”

There were 57 boys and 36 girls competing in the high school races Tuesday. It is the most boys at the meet since 2005.

The Eagles will take the weekend off before competing in the Inter-Tri County League Meet in McDonald on Tuesday.

United and East Palestine have topped each other twice this season and will meet several more times before the end of the season.

“It’s going to come down to us and East Palestine at districts again,” Beaumariage said.

“We like the competition,” Zehentbauer said. “It’s all friendly.”