Entering the 2018 junior high cross country season, Canton Ingersoll coach Brenda Shawgo believed it would be a rebuilding year for the girls and boys teams.

NORMAL – Entering the 2018 junior high cross country season, Canton Ingersoll coach Brenda Shawgo believed it would be a rebuilding year for the girls and boys teams.


But that did not stop the Lady Giants from advancing to today’s IESA Class 2A State Finals at Maxwell Park.


Canton Ingersoll finished second in last week’s sectional at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, not only battling the opposing teams, but the weather.


“They did a great job in sectionals,” said Shawgo of the squad. “Sectionals was tough on us. It poured on us the whole entire time.”


Even by junior high standards, this year’s Canton Ingersoll squad is one of youth.


The team has just one eight grader running in Erica Dailey. After that, the remaining nine runners are sixth graders Ella Demler, Brooklyn Dennis, Aliana Lawson, Marlee Miller, Abrianna Putman and Sydney Sager, along with fifth graders Ella Bruketta, Aneliese Hodges and Olivia Knowles.


“It’s been a rebuilding year,” said Shawgo. “I told the girls (Thursday) night, ‘Look what we can do the next three years as well.’”


According to Shawgo, the team has gradually worked hard all season long in getting to this point.


“I told them at the beginning of the season that if we want to get to state we’re going to have to work pretty hard,” she said. “They buckled down and they did it. I was impressed. Every meet the girls did just a little bit better each time, staying on task and doing the work.”


That work included going beyond what was expected.


“I think the key was doing the extra (running),” said Shawgo. “There were several practices when these girls would go out and run the extra after practice. Do the extra work and not complain. For these 10 to go on their own and do the extra that says a lot right there.”


With so many young runners, Shawgo expects today’s event to be a learning experience.


“They’re going to be up against seventh and eighth graders and tough teams,” said Shawgo. “They’re going to take away a lot from that going forward.”


Despite the learning curves, Shawgo expects her runners to have their best race of the season.


“I look for all of them to run their personal best because it is such a competitive, cool experience,” said Shawgo. “... It’s just a whole different ballgame. They’re going to take away from that and I think they’re going to work harder in the off-season this year.


“I know they’re already talking about running in the winter,” she added. “If they’re thinking about running in the winter, that’s the key.”


Building up to the race, Shawgo has tried to keep the girls calm and relaxed.


“They’re very nervous. One girl said she was scared,” said Shawgo. “I said, ‘Listen. Don’t be nervous. Don’t be scared. You’ve done the work. You’ve worked hard all year. Go out there, have some fun and enjoy the experience. Just do what you do best and run.’


“Once they get to that starting line and that gun goes off, they’re going to know what to do,” she added. “They should run their personal best – and hopefully it won’t rain on them.”


Runners from Lewistown and Farmington will also be taking part in today’s state finals.


In the Class 1A girls race at 9:30 a.m., Lewistown eighth grader Halle Tindall and sixth grader Abbie Johnson will be running.


In the Class 1A boys race at 10:15 a.m., Lewistown fifth graders Blake Mason and Carter Sours will run.


The Canton Ingersoll girls will run at 11 a.m. before the Class 2A boys race takes place at 11:45 a.m. There Farmington sixth grade Jake Martin will be running.