OBETZ — Evelyn Prodoehl hasn’t just been working on getting better at her craft. The Lakota West High School cross country runner has been focusing on becoming the best at it.
And now she’s there.
“I’ve built this up all season,” Prodoehl said. “It’s done. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Prodoehl ran a Fortress Obetz course-best 17:23.77 to capture the Division I girls cross country state championship on Saturday.
Prodoehl, a junior, finished eighth at state with an 18:16.50 as a freshman and fifth with an 18:19.75 as a sophomore — improving her times by nearly a minute the last two seasons.
“A lot of it is just adding little bits to the training all season,” Prodoehl said. “Over the summer, I did the weight room a lot. That’s been different from my freshman and sophomore years. It really helps. I think the nutritional part of it helps, too.
“It’s knowing when to take the easy days easy and the hard days hard.”
Lakota West eighth-year coach Sean Hart said Prodoehl is his first-ever individual state champion runner. The Firebirds placed eighth as a team on Saturday.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been around the coaching business for quite some time,” Prodoehl said. “Evelyn is my first state champion, and it’s certainly been an honor. I’ve been blessed in my career as a coach to have great athletes like Evelyn.
“The last few years our girls program has been building and building,” Hart added. “Evelyn has certainly been the cornerstone of that. It’s just an amazing feeling to work with someone like Evelyn.
“Evelyn and her teammates, they brought a tear to my eye (Saturday). I couldn’t be more proud of her and her teammates and the whole community. It’s just an amazing feeling.”
Prodoehl never lost focus on Saturday. She was in first place at each split — going wire to wire.
“I do plan out my race. Then I hit it hard down the last stretch,” Prodoehl said. “What motivates me is that I not only want to get a good time, but I also want my coaches and teammates to be proud of me in my accomplishments in running as well. That’s what was coming through my mind going down to the finish.”
LENDING A PRAISE
Prodoehl pointed a finger at her teammates and coaches for helping prepare her for success.
“It’s great how we all push each other. It’s awesome to have all of this support,” she said. “I look forward to seeing them at practice every day. It’s been a great season with them — they’re some of my closest friends.”
Prodoehl was introduced to cross country in elementary school, where she started running a mile a day in an intramural program.
She ran her first 5K in 35 minutes in third grade and then joined Freedom Elementary’s cross country program.
“I loved improving and I loved competing — seeing my time drop in each race,” Prodoehl said. “I just loved the atmosphere. The practices were great, and that was a great builder for middle school and then eventually high school cross country.”
Prodoehl isn’t finished in 2023 just yet. She’s competing in the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships next month.
“I’m going to extend my season just a little bit longer until December in Alabama,” Prodoehl said. “That will be my last cross country race. Then I’ll hit the indoor track season and outdoor. Then, it’s senior year for cross country.”
Other area state cross country finishers:
Individual: Lucia Rodbro, Talawanda, 18:22.36, 11th; Molly Deardorff, Lakota East, 18:36.63, 20th; Alynna Wilson, Lebanon, 19:07.54, 44th; Ava Dickenson, Lakota East, 19:17.83, 53rd; Ava Shephard, Lakota West, 19:27.80, 60th; Kaitlin Zaszubski, Lakota West, 19:42.39, 79th; Maddy Asher, Lakota West, 19:53.42, 91st; Kensie Black, Franklin, 19:57.04, 93rd; Amane Ohhashi, Lakota West, 20:41.15, 138th; Alyese Caldwell Downing, Lakota West, 20:41.95, 140th; Ellie Brite, Lakota West, 22:04.25, 181st. Team: Lakota West, eighth.
Individual: Reilly Meyer, Lakota East, 15:50.70, 28th; Max Bixler, Talawanda, 16:01.46, 40th; Andrew Wilcox, Monroe, 16:03.89, 43rd.
Individual: Micah Katz, Cincinnati Christian, 16:21.40, 20th; Christian Olson, Cincinnati Christian, 16:41.34, 37th.