ONTARIO — Ontario’s Ellie Maurer never imaged she would qualify for the state track meet as a freshman.
That she will head to Columbus with a pair of regional championships in her back pocket is even harder for Maurer to wrap her head around.
The Richland Bank Athlete of the Week, Maurer won a Division II regional title in the 1,600 meter run on a steamy Saturday afternoon at Lexington High School. The individual crown came two days after Mauer joined forces with older sister Grace, Anna Gregg and Ariah Reuer to take gold in the 4x800 relay.
“If you told me I was going to be a regional champion (as a freshman) I definitely wouldn’t have believed you,” Maurer said after holding off Bloom-Carroll’s Abby Matthews to win the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 23.19 seconds Saturday. “I didn’t expect that.”
Her freshman year has been full of surprises. Maurer helped the cross country team to a fifth-place finish in the Division II state meet last fall, finishing a team-best 32nd at National Trail Raceway in Hebron in 19:57.
That set the stage for a track season that saw Maurer break the school record in the 1,600 at the district meet at Oak Harbor. She finished in 5:13.36.
While Saturday’s winning time was almost a full 10 seconds slower than her district effort, Maurer wasn’t concerned about the slowdown.
“I thought it was a good race,” she said. “It felt kind of slow but I wasn’t too worried because I’m running for place.”
Maurer will go into Saturday’s 18-runner final with the 15th fastest seed time (based on regional finish). The top seed time belongs to Gates Mills Hawken sophomore Ella Gilson (5:04.36).
Ontario’s 4x800 team won a regional title in 9:37.57. The Warriors will go into Friday’s final seeded fifth.
Regardless of what happens this weekend, Mauer knows she is playing with house money.
“I wasn’t even thinking I’d make it to state,” she said. “Maybe if I was lucky and worked really hard, things would come to me but I wasn’t expecting it.
“I’m just happy to be there. If anything, I’ll be happy if I could stick with the other girls.”