HEBRON - This was no ordinary day at the office, though St. John Central's fabulous freshman Fallon Doyle sure made it seem that way.
The Irish's daunting freshman capped off her first fall campaign with a third-place finish during Saturday's 34th annual OHSAA Division III Girls' Cross Country Championships, conducted for the first time at National Trail Raceway east of Columbus.
Doyle, who made it look mostly methodical in meeting virtually every challenge, breezed home with a school record 18:35.81, clocking under nearly ideal conditions on a chilly but sunny afternoon.
"I guess I exceeded expectations this season," smiled Doyle, who has already stamped herself as another in a long line of outstanding, award-winning female athletes from the Bellaire school.
Doyle's clocking bettered the school mark of 18:38 previously established by Natalie Perzanowski, who was closely monitoring Saturday's results.
"We got a text from Natalie wishing us good luck. It was a great sendoff," Irish coach Jeremy Midei said. "We more or less treated Fallon with kid gloves this season but she's a special young lady with a terrific future."
The top four D-III finishers Saturday were all underclassmen including state champion Brittany Atkinson of Liberty Center, yet another distinguished freshman whose medal-winning time was 18:27.51. Coldwater's Christina Seas, a sophomore, was runnerup in 18:29.92.
Shadyside's Tara Tollett finished a more than respectable 33rd (19:45.86) with Martins Ferry's Sunshine Wrenn also producing a top 50 finish, clocking 19:55.93 to place 42nd.
On the boys' side coach Tony Ciroli's St. Clairsville harriers teamed for a 10th place outing of 16 D-II squads on hand.
Red Devils veteran ace Andy Thornburg led St. C., clocking 16:46.71 to place 26th.
"It wasn't my best effort and not what I had hoped for," Thornburg said. "But our team qualified and that was cool."
Also for St. C., junior Drake Walker placed 56th (17:07.10); junior Joe Davies was 86th (17:31.01); senior Cole Antolak clocked 17:39.64 for 93rd; sophomore Alex Timko was 106th (17:49.86). Underclassmen James Davenport and Chris Baker clocked 18:41.87 and 18:41.88, respectively.
In the D-II girls' race, Red Devils junior Amy Castle posted a 20:02.92 for 54th place.
The St. John boys settled for 12th place in the boys' Division III field.
Leading the Green was senior mainstay Ramon Nieves, whose 27th place clocking was 16:38.56. Irish junior Corey Leasure was also solid, with a 16:51.38 time, good for 41st.
"I thought the course was fair and really enjoyed running it," Leasure said. "It was great being part of this with my teammates."
Senior Matt Thomas placed 68th in 17:13.74. The Green's state-title qualifying contingent included sophomore Aaron Ebbert (18:53.99); junior Brennen Donahue (18:54.69); sophomore Garrett Holubeck (19:52.89); and freshmen Sean Clemons (20:08.61).