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Female Athlete of the Year: South Carroll’s Grace Siehler used ‘push for excellence’ to find success in cross country, indoor track

South Carroll junior Grace Siehler leads the pack, followed by Middletown's Erin Mcquitty and Winters Mill's Kathryn Hopkins as they compete in the 2A West Regional Cross Country Championships at Liberty High School Thursday, October 31, 2019. Siehler finished first in the girls race.
South Carroll junior Grace Siehler leads the pack, followed by Middletown's Erin Mcquitty and Winters Mill's Kathryn Hopkins as they compete in the 2A West Regional Cross Country Championships at Liberty High School Thursday, October 31, 2019. Siehler finished first in the girls race. (Dylan Slagle)

NOTE: The June 28 print edition of this article omitted Century High School’s volleyball team as one of Carroll County’s state championship teams for the fall of 2019.

Grace Siehler took her athleticism to a new level this year.

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The South Carroll High School junior crafted successful cross country and indoor track campaigns en route to being named the Carroll County Times Female Athlete of the Year.

Siehler spent much of her sophomore year recovering from an injury that left her unable to run cross country that season. She suffered from an iron deficiency during indoor and outdoor track as well, and was unable to compete to her full ability.

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Siehler entered her junior year with no expectations, and said it motivated her because she felt she had nothing to lose.

“I wasn’t proud of my sophomore year and what happened, so I just put my head down last summer and worked as hard as I could,” Siehler said. “I would run my runs by myself and just find that internal motivation. Nobody really knew me from sophomore year so I just found that motivation within myself.”

South Carroll junior Grace Siehler is the 2019 Carroll County Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
South Carroll junior Grace Siehler is the 2019 Carroll County Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Siehler won a majority of her cross country races early in the season that included victories in the Brunswick and Hood College invitationals. She finished second at the Bull Run Invitational, run on the same course as the state championship meet at Hereford High, and won a quad meet between Century, Liberty, South Carroll, and Manchester Valley.

She earned three more victories before winning the Carroll County Athletie League meet title by 35.1 seconds (20:23.4). She won the Class 2A West Region meet by 34.5 seconds (19:51.3) one week later.

The Class 2A state meet was no easy feat — the course is known for its difficult terrain and infamous “Dip,” a steep ravine athletes must navigate twice before finishing. Siehler finished third in 19:12.37 and was named Times Girls Cross County Runner of the Year.

Siehler said that cross country season provided an excellent transition to indoor track, where she helped the Cavaliers capture their program’s first state championship.

“Once the indoor season started, the weather was kind of holding us back in terms of speed work,” Cavs coach Joe Murray said. “[Siehler] wanted to do speed work because the transition from cross country to indoor track is primarily starting to really focus on speed work since she’s focusing on shorter distances.

“She had a full knowledge of understanding exactly what needed to be done.”

Siehler won individual county titles in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, and captured Class 2A West and state titles in the 1,600. Her state championship-winning time of 5:13.77 was a personal record and the fastest all-time for a South Carroll athlete.

“There wasn’t really a lot of talk about winning states, but in a way that made it so much more memorable and better because sometimes it’s helpful to have different mindset in practice than it is on the day of a meet,” Siehler said. “We just carried on as normal at practice and it helped to have a fresh mindset on the day.

“Once that day came, everyone was like ‘OK, we can actually win this,’ and with it being fresh, it was easier to focus.”

Siehler, the Times Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, ran a leg on the Cavaliers’ 4x400 relay that finished third at states in 4:08.31, which ended up being the deciding factor in the team’s one-half point edge over Harford Tech to win the title. Murray took 10 athletes to the championship meet that day and said he tried to best balance where the girls would best fit in terms of point scoring.

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Siehler was the team’s lone individual champion, but the Cavaliers added three third-place finishes, three fourth-place finishes, and one sixth-place finish to account for the team title.

“It was essential for her to do well,” Murray said. “She produced and she showed up. She did what she had to do. Without her performance, it was going to be really difficult to win overall. She really, really motivated the girls and got them to the point of being mentally ready.

“She was a driving force, mentally, to push for excellence.”

WINTER PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Boys Basketball: Brett DeWees, Manchester Valley

Girls Basketball: Amelia Saunders, Manchester Valley

Boys Indoor Track: Chett Brunner, Century

Girls Indoor Track: Grace Siehler, South Carroll

Wrestling: Michael Pizzuto, South Carroll

CARROLL’S STATE CHAMPIONS 2019-20

Century boys soccer (2A)

Century volleyball (2A)

Liberty girls cross country (2A)

Liberty field hockey (1A)

South Carroll girls indoor track (2A)

Westminster field hockey (3A)

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