It has been a long time since two Clermont County female cross country stars competed in the state championship meet at the same time.
The last two were Tina DeMaris of Bethel-Tate, now the head girls cross country coach at Western Brown High School, and Danielle Greenwald of Clermont Northeastern.
This year’s duo were teammates from Glen Este – senior Stephanie Stoffel and sophomore Michelle Thomas.
"Stephanie improved a lot over her junior year and had a good senior year to be proud of. Michelle had an outstanding year all year. They both worked very hard all year and worked very well together and helped each other," Carson said.
The twosome was truly lucky to be coached by great talent from yesteryear. Both from the 1980s, Carson, at Glen Este, and Schwalbach (then Holly Graber), at Amelia, were all-league harriers from their respective high schools and leagues.
"The past four years have been great. I made a lot of friends and I really enjoyed the closeness of our team," said Stoffel who is taking serious looks at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University or Morehead (Ky.) State University. At any school she chooses to further her education and athletic career. She plans to major in mathematics education.
"I was really happy to come in second (in the Division I state championship race)," said Thomas, the daughter of Mike and Sharon Thomas. "I tried my hardest to win. I'd like to win it next year, but I'll be facing some really good competition."
Their best career times over a 3.1-mile course were both recorded at this year's Division I district meet. Thomas completed the course in 17-minutes, six-seconds and Stoffel clocked in at 19:05.
The GE twosome enjoyed the advantage of being able to motivate each other to better times and places in each race.
"We pushed each other. We helped each other become better runners. I'm very glad we both made it (to state)," said the daughter of Todd and Amy Stoffel who were superb athletes in their own right during their days at GEHS.
"She was like a big sister to me and the rest of the team. I'll miss Stephanie a lot," said Thomas.
Both explained the next sport on their agenda will be indoor track during the winter before the high school track season begins in the spring. Thomas will be competing outdoors from the 800-meter run up through the 3,200 run and Stoffel will begin at the 400-meter dash up through the 3,200.
"They both had great seasons and pushed each other which helped them both out a lot and they have maintained a very good friendship," Schwalbach said.