By ADAM FERRISE
Special to The Gazette
Freshman Anna Boyert walked into Scioto Downs in Columbus and immediately felt nervous.
This was the biggest stage she would compete on all season.
Later standing on the infield, she admitted she had a bad case of the nerves to Medina coach Phil Brewer.
But Boyert didnâ€™t let some butterflies bother her later in the day as she ran like a veteran in her first state Division I meet.
She passed 11 of her opponents in the final mile on the way to a 14th-place All-Ohio finish, solidifying her spot as the most accomplished ninth-grader in Bees history and as The Gazette MVP in 2008.
â€œWhat was really impressive about Anna, was that through the whole season she never shied away from being the No.1 on a really good team,â€ Brewer said. â€œItâ€™s so important to the teamâ€™s success that someone is up (at the top of) every race.â€
During the summer, Boyert wasnâ€™t completely certain she wanted to run cross country. She had played soccer for years and most of her friends planned on playing that sport.
In the end, Boyert decided to go with cross country because she said she was sick of the large amount of traveling that goes with playing club soccer.
It also helped that she had already been to many cross country meets as a spectator to watch her three brothers, Matt, Jarrod and Jake compete.
â€œI enjoy running a lot,â€ Boyert said. â€œI had a good experience in middle school. Middle school made my choice for me â€” cross country was my best bet.â€
Boyert had no trouble proving right away that she had made the right choice.
In her first varsity race, she won the Medina County Meet, beating All-Ohio runners Nicole Cargill and Paige Szabat of Wadsworth.
She never looked back after that, finishing in the top five in every regular season meet.
Boyert added a runner-up finish to her resume at the Lorain District.
While fighting a cold, she managed to place eighth at the Tiffin D-I Regional, leading Medinaâ€™s team to its second straight state appearance.
â€œI think the thing that was kind of shockingly impressive, not that it was shocking how well she did, but how she passed a bunch of people late,â€ Brewer said of Boyertâ€™s effort at state. â€œShe had a specific goal of making the podium (top 15) and she went out and made it happen.â€
Before the race, she had promised her teammates that she would be on the podium, but as the race unfolded she found herself behind a slew of runners.
â€œAt that point I didnâ€™t think I could do it,â€ Boyert said. â€œBut there were only 10 more people to pass, so I thought, what the heck, I can do it. Once I started passing people it gave me momentum.â€
Boyert, who plans on playing recreationÂ basketball so she can run indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring, has three more years to improve on her finish.
Medina has never had a state champion, but Brewer thinks Boyert has state-title level ability.
â€œI think itâ€™s obvious that possibly being a state champ is a goal at this point,â€ Brewer said. â€œShe feels like she can run with anyone.â€
Ferrise may be reached at email@example.com.