Parks has no equal at districts

CANTON – United senior Allison Parks is going to be hard to stop.

“She hasn’t lost to a Division III girl this year. Why start now?” United coach Ken Beaumariage said.

Parks won her 12th consecutive race Saturday by pulling away for the Division III district title at Malone University.

“My goal this year was to get 10,” she said. “These are just for fun.”

Parks topped the 75-runner field, covering the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes, 29 seconds. Her time was 7 seconds faster than anyone else in the three girls races Saturday.

“I think she’s got a lot left in the tank,” Beaumariage said. “She hasn’t been pushed yet.”

The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the Boardman regional next Saturday.

“I’ve been waiting for big competition all year,” Parks said. “Next week, I’m going to get it.

“When you do get it, you embrace it more instead of dreading it.”

She’ll be getting plenty of support there as the Eagles also advanced as a team to regionals for the first time since 2007.

“I wanted to help the team today,” Parks said. “We’re going to regionals. It’s all about them.”

United took the fourth and final regional berth with 121 points, one behind East Canton. Western Reserve was fifth with 145 and East Palestine was sixth with 161.

“I had us top four,” Beaumariage said. “I knew it was going to be close.”

Following Parks for the Eagles were junior Natalie Gamble in 21st, freshman Brynn Hofmeister 24th, senior Elaina Zehentbauer 38th, junior Cheyenne Dolph 46th, sophomore Rebecca Bock 60th and sophomore Jackie Bentfield 71st.

“It will be tough (at Boardman),” Beaumariage said. “A top seven finish would be great.”

Parks will be running for her third straight state berth.

“Right now she’s going to be running just as fast as the girl behind her,” Beaumariage said. “She’s letting someone else set the pace, but will blow them away in the third mile.”

Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Athena Welsh led Saturday’s race for the first two miles until Parks pulled away for a 10-second victory.

“She is good at pace setting and I’m not,” Parks said. “At the end, it’s all go.”

She was going to wait before focusing on her next race.

“Right now I’m relieved,” Parks said. “There’s a lot of good runners here.”