Bradford’s Karmen Knepp, Versailles’ Joe Spitzer named athletes of the week


DARKE COUNTY – A pair of runners who have gotten off to fast starts to the cross country season are The Daily Advocate’s first athletes of the week of the 2017 fall sports season.

This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Bradford girls cross country runner Karmen Knepp and Versailles boys cross country runner Joe Spitzer.

Knepp recorded her first win of the season last week at Greenville’s Treaty City Invitational. The Bradford junior won the small school girls race in 19:20, besting Marion Local’s Kelsey Broering by 12 seconds for first place.

“I’m excited to see Karmen win the Treaty City Invitational,” Bradford cross country coach Rob Grillot said. “Last year she got second with a time of 20:06. This year she won with a 19:20 so she’s much faster than she was last year at this time.”

The strong start to the season is a continuation of Knepp’s great high school running career. She’s already qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country meet twice and is focused on making it back again this year.

“We are hoping to see a career PR and school record within the next few weeks,” Grillot said, “and then continuing to chip away at that through the state meet. Last year she got 10th in the state. This year we’d like to improve on that and shoot for somewhere in the top five.”

Along with being very gifted physically, Knepp also has the mental aptitude to be a great competitor.

“I think one of her biggest strengths as a runner is her ability to stay mentally strong,” Grillot said. “When she meets a challenging opponent who wants to push the pace she doesn’t break down mentally. She sticks with her and waits patiently for the right time to make a move.”

Spitzer also has started strong this season, recording wins in his first two races at Milton-Union’s Bob Schul Invitational at then at the Treaty City Invitational with a season-best time of 15:46, defeating Northmont’s Gage Beireis by 20 seconds for first place.

“I am not surprised at all that Joe has won the first two races of the year,” Versailles cross country coach Mark Pleiman said. “There is only one returning runner from the D II state race from last year that finished ahead of Joe as the rest graduated. Zach Kreft is the returning state champion and has thrown down some ridiculous times already this year. Beating Zach and winning the state meet is one of Joe’s goals for this season. He would also like to go after our current school record and D III state meet record time of 15:16 held by current Oregon runner Samuel Prakel.”

Spitzer currently is the second fastest cross country runner in Versailles history, trailing only Prakel, who was a Wendy’s High School Heisman winner.

“Joe is a great runner,” Pleiman said. “Joe has the special ability to challenge himself. Most of the time a runner will only produce great times when there are other athletes that are around their same capabilities to push them to do better, but Joe has that special gift to be able to push his body even when it is just him racing the clock.”

Spitzer, a two-time state cross country qualifier, finished ninth in last year’s state race at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. His natural abilities as a runner and his work ethic have the Versailles senior poised to make another trip to the state meet.

“Joe is a complete runner in that he has the God-given natural talent but also has an amazing work ethic,” Pleiman said. “With the combination of those two qualities Joe is going to have an amazing year.”

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Bradford girls cross country runner Karmen Knepp and Versailles boys cross country runner Joe Spitzer have been named this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week. To nominate a Darke County athlete for athlete of the week, contact Sports Editor Kyle Shaner at 937-569-4316 or kshaner@dailyadvocate.com.
http://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/09/web1_Knepp-Spitzer-WEB.jpgBradford girls cross country runner Karmen Knepp and Versailles boys cross country runner Joe Spitzer have been named this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week. To nominate a Darke County athlete for athlete of the week, contact Sports Editor Kyle Shaner at 937-569-4316 or kshaner@dailyadvocate.com. Kyle Shaner | The Daily Advocate

By Kyle Shaner

kshaner@dailyadvocate.com

Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.