Success doesn’t come without countless miles leading up to race day.
Seymour High School sophomore Ashton Chase hardly ever took a day off during, and before, the cross-country season.
That determination, paired with natural ability, often set her above the opposition each time she hit the finish line.
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“Not only is (Chase) an athlete, but she works hard,” Seymour coach Spencer Sunbury said. “She’s not satisfied with what she’s done yesterday or today. She’s always looking to be better. Sometimes, you need to make sure she isn’t working too hard. She has a good head on her shoulders.”
Chase led the Owls to their third consecutive state berth while claiming three individual overall first-place finishes on top of a Hoosier Hills Conference individual title along the way.
With all her accomplishments this season, The Tribune has named Chase the 2016 Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year.
Through the first three races of the season, all in August, not a single runner finished above Chase.
Following a win at Freeman Field for the Seymour Invitational, she captured top overall finishes at Bedford and Franklin.
Almost two months later, Chase wrote her name in history at the Hoosier Hills Conference meet.
With a time of 19:04.8, Chase won the conference race hosted by Bedford North Lawrence.
Chase said that her race strategy was to come out of the gates faster than she did in 2015, and it made a big difference throughout the season.
However, the best time was still to come.
At sectional, Chase ran a personal best by clocking 18:38.62 for fourth place at Eagle Park in Brown County.
In the regional, she bumped-up a spot to third in 18:48.1 before running a 18:46.5 to claim eighth in semistate.
For this year’s state championship, Chase improved from 42nd to 33rd place.
“We came into the season with a lot of injuries,” Chase said. “Even with that, I think our expectations were still high. We’re great runners. We got everything together to get back to state.
“My goal was top 40. I got 33rd, and I was pretty happy with that.”
In unseasonable conditions, she finished the season timing 19:11.8.
“I think her best races were semistate and state,” Sunbury said. “Nobody’s times were there at state, but watching her get out and move up — she ran a gutsy, hard race at state. At semistate, she wasn’t hesitant at all to lead.”
At semistate, for a brief time, Chase was ahead of the pack.
Sunbury said that while Chase knew she might not have the fastest time, that didn’t deter her from running with the best.
“She’s the type of runner who knows she might not be the No. 1 runner going into the race, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t going to try to win,” he said. “She doesn’t back down from any runners. That’s exactly what she did at semistate and state. She gave it all she had.”
With two years left in her running career, Chase has big plans.
She aims to run under 18 minutes next year and finish in the top-20 at state.
The runner has the potential to break school records, and at her current pace it will be hard to stop her.
“It’s innate in her to go out and compete,” Sunbury said. “She’s learning every time. She did grow as a runner as far as racing plans. She was much smarter this year. Last year, I think she was just getting her feet wet.
“I still think one of the biggest things she has yet to learn is her limits. State was a good indication of testing those limits, but there’s still more there.”
2016 Jackson County Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year
Ashton Chase, Seymour, Sophomore
Sectional: 4th place, 18:38.62 (personal, season best).
Regional: 3rd place, 18:48.18.
Semistate: 8th, 18:46.5.
State: 33rd, 19:11.8.
Top overall finishes: Hoosier Hills Conference (Bedford), Seymour, Bedford, Franklin Invitationals.
Other accomplishments: All-HHC, team MVP.
Joining Ashton Chase on the 2016 All-Jackson County girls cross-country team:
Makenna Sunbury, Seymour, Freshman
Sectional: 5th, 19:15.4 (personal, season best)
Regional: 7th, 20:04.6.
Semistate: 31, 19:45.2.
State: 99th, 20:19.3.
Other accomplishments: won Batesville Invitational, runner-up at Hoosier Hills Conference, Bedford and Seymour. All-HHC, team newcomer award.
Abby Voss, Seymour, Junior
Sectional: 6th, 19:46.7 (personal, season best).
Regional: 13th, 20:23.8.
Semistate: 28th, 19:43.3.
State: 150th, 20:59.0.
Other accomplishments: All-HHC.
Claire Loebker, Seymour Junior
Sectional: 11th, 20:25.3.
Regional: 9th, 20:11.2 (season best).
Semistate: 43rd, 20:03.2.
State: 172nd, 21:31.0.
Other accomplishments: All-HHC honorable mention.
Breanna Barger, Crothersville, Senior
Sectional: 12th, 20:33.48.
Regional: 10th, 20:14.17 (season best).
Semistate: 64th, 20:31.1.
Other accomplishments: All-Southern Athletic Conference, runner-up SAC, top overall finish at Paoli Invitational, 11 top-10 finishes, team MVP.
Kaelyn Johnson, Brownstown Central, Sophomore
Sectional: 14th, 20:51.43.
Regional: 15th, 20:41.9 (season best).
Semistate: 80th, 20:51.6.
Other accomplishments: All-Mid Southern Conference, 4 top-10 finishes, team MVP.
Destiny Satterthwaite, Brownstown Central, Sophomore
Sectional 20th, 21:45.38.
Regional: 25th, 21:31.9.
Semistate: 150th, 22:51.9.
Other accomplishments: All-MSC honorable mention, 3 top-10 finishes, season best 20:41.