Tippecanoe girls, Longs, Downing advance to state meet


COVINGTON — For Asher and Elyza Long, spending Saturday mornings at cross country meets has been a way of life for a long time.

Their father Josh Long has been a long time cross country coach at Covington and their mother Libby (McMaken) Long was a standout cross country and track runner for the Lady Buccs.

So it seems only fitting that Asher — a sophomore — and Elyza — a freshman — will be doing the same thing Saturday morning at the D-III state cross country meet at Fortress Obetz.

Elyza will run in the D-III girls race at 9 a.m., while Asher will compete in the D-III boys race at 10 a.m.

“I think they probably grew up thinking that all kids got dropped off by their mom at a cross country meet,” Josh Long said with a laugh. “And it is great that it has worked out that they both have a passion for the sport.”

Asher qualified for state Saturday, by finishing sixth in 17:16.8.

“I remember doing fun runs when I was younger and we were at 5Ks,” Asher said. “I always looked up to the guys on the high school team and how fast they were. It is great to be a part of that now.”

And Asher was motivated by not making it to state last year. Having his sister make it as well, is just an added bonus.

“For sure, I had a bad race at regional last year,” he said. “I think we do (push each other). We are both up on the top 10 board at Covington. I am hoping to be in the top 40 Saturday. Other than that, I just want to run my best race.”

Elyza finished 11th in 20:43.8.

“I never expected to (make it to state),” Elyza admitted. “When my mom would go to 5Ks when I was little, I would go with her and do the fun runs. That is how I got started.”

She has made steady progress adjusting from the two-mile distance in junior high to the 5K distance in high school.

“She had a great year in track last spring (in junior high),” Josh Long said. “We just weren’t sure how she would handle the extra mile in high school. She ran in the 19s for the first time at the MVL meet and has been dropping more time since and beating kids she never beat in junior high.”

Elyza’s goal for Saturday is a simple one.

“I just want to have fun and enjoy the moment,” she said.

Josh Long understands the two are at a different point right now.

“Even though Asher is a sophomore and Elyza is a freshman, he is two years older than her,” he said. “Asher has really matured this year — both as a runner and as a leader for the team.”

And as much as is possible, this will be like a team event for the Buccs.

“Even though they are going as individuals, we are going to take as many of their teammates as want to go,” Josh Long said. “We want them to still have the positive energy and their teammates their supporting them.”

Also competing in the D-III race will be McKenna Downing of Newton, just the second Lady Indians to run in the state cross country meet.

Downing finished 16th at the regional in 20:59.7.

“I am taking my whole team to state and it is going to be fun,” Downing said. “I just want to enjoy the experience.”


The Tippecanoe girls cross country team will be running in the D-II meet after finishing second at the regional Saturday. The Red Devils are one of 20 teams competing and will run at noon.

And the Lady Red Devils (Annie Sinning, Shelby Hept, Gracie Wead, Leda Anderson, Libby Krebs, Isa Ramos, Katie Landis) have a real appreciation for it after missing by one point of qualifying for state a year ago.

Sinning, who led the Red Devils Saturday with a fifth-place finish in 19:451., ran at state as an individual a year ago and didn’t want to repeat that experience.

““It is just completely different (going as a team),” Sinning said. “Going last year as an individual was a lot tougher than I thought it would. It is just the positive energy and everything the team brings me. This was (a big goal). Especially after missing by one point last year.”

Hept and Wead both added top 20 finishes on Saturday to help secure the Red Devils return to state.

No posts to display