Oak Harbor's girls cross country team is peaking at the right time, and junior Kia Frank is leading the way.
Frank finished second overall and posted a career-best time of 19:45.38 last Saturday at the Division II district meet in Bettsville. The Rockets won the team title with 26 points - runner-up Maumee had 49 - by placing five runners in the top eight places.
"Kia has had an outstanding season," 11th-year coach Gina Warnke said. "She's kind of blown me away this season. This is a girl who her freshman and sophomore year never made the first or second team in the Sandusky Bay Conference, and she comes out her junior year and wins the meet.
"She put in some extra miles and had a strong base coming in during the preseason. She has come in focused and motivated, and it has paid off."
The Rockets' third straight district title sent them to Saturday's regional meet at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin. The top four teams and 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the Nov. 7 state meet at Scioto Downs in Columbus.
No Oak Harbor girls cross country team has ever competed at the state meet. The Rockets have had two individuals, Kelly Gephart and Lynn Garrett, qualify.
"We could be in the mix (at regionals)," Warnke said. "They really stepped it up at districts. We had two girls in the 19s (minutes) and that's a big plus. If we can do that again and our third and fourth runner can back that up, anything's possible."
Warnke's squad closed out the regular season by claiming its third SBC title in four years on Oct. 17 in Huron. Oak Harbor won the SBC in 2006 and '07 but took second behind Edison last season. The Rockets' lone returning runners from last year were Frank and fellow junior Tory Wood.
"We felt pretty confident, but we didn't rule out Edison," Warnke said. "They've had a strong team in the past and we have battled the last four years between first and second with them."
Warnke said Wood, the Rockets' No. 2 runner, had a "breakout race" at districts. She finished with a season-best time of 19:56, just one second off her career best.
"She really brought it race day at districts, and so did Megan (Wistinghausen), who had a personal best," the coach said. "Going into districts, we were looking at second place. We had raced Maumee five times prior to that and had only gotten them once. They are a tough team, but our girls really stepped it up."
Wistinghausen, a sophomore and the team's the No. 3 runner, turned in a personal-best time at the district meet.
"Megan is doing a nice job," Warnke said. "She ran a 20:12, so we're excited about that."
Freshman Allie Dresser posted a time of 20:48 last weekend.
"She's had a great year as a freshman," Warnke said. "She's been consistent."
Senior Kristen Rios helped the Rockets win SBC titles in 2006-07 but chose not to run last season. She returned to the team this season and finished in 21:08 at districts.
"We were definitely glad to have her back," Warnke said. "We've had a couple of freshmen who have been a real nice addition to the program. Kristen was my No. 5 runner at districts but my order is constantly changing, which is a good thing."
Freshmen Allie Dombrowsky and Cindy Street, who had a personal best last Saturday, have also run well for the Rockets in 2009.
"Allie started out as my top runner at the beginning of the season," Warnke said. "She's been battling with sickness but I think she will break out this week. She's posted a 20:10, which is pretty amazing for somebody who had never run before this season."