DARKE COUNTY – A pair of Versailles seniors who are finishing the season with strong performances are this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week.
This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Versailles girls cross country runner Kenia McEldowney and Versailles football player George Grow.
McEldowney led the Versailles girls at the Ohio High School Athletic Association regional cross country meet in Troy, finishing 10th overall with a time of 20:31.39.
“I love the way she went after the regional race with such tenaciousness,” Versailles cross country coach Mark Pleiman said. “She was up in the front five for the first 800 meters of the race and hung on. She knew it was going to hurt, but she knew that that was her way of getting into the top 16.”
Led by McEldowney, the Lady Tigers finished third in the Division III girls team standings to earn a spot in the state meet.
“Kenia is a tremendous leader,” Pleiman said. “The transformation that she has made in her attitude alone from last year to this season is absolutely incredible. She is one of the mothers of the team and is constantly looking out for the other girls.”
McEldowney’s best time this season is 20:24.87, which is among the top five fastest girls in the county.
“She is always working hard in practice and a lot of times is running within one of our top pack of boys,” Pleiman said. “She is a talented and hardworking young lady. Even during conditioners this year, which are not mandatory, she would wake up at 3:30 to get to a job at 4:30 and show up at our morning conditioner at 7 o’clock and run from 7 to 9 only to go back to her job. That is dedication.”
After battling through injuries the past two seasons, Grow made the most of his potential as a senior by starring on offense, defense and special teams for the Tigers.
“He’s one that you really enjoying seeing the success because he’s worked his butt off,” Versailles football coach Adam Miller said.
Grow was second among Darke County players this season with 22 receptions for 372 yards and three touchdowns. The senior captain also was third on his team with 442 rushing yards and was second on the team with eight rushing touchdowns.
“He’s definitely done a lot for us offensively,” Miller said. “I think he had close to 900 yards rushing and receiving.”
From his safety spot, Grow recorded 59 tackles and six tackles for loss this season. He also defended three passes, intercepted a pass and recovered a pair of fumbles.
“He’s a great effort guy,” Miller said. “He’s always hustling. He’s always one when you talk to opposing coaches before a game they’ve always got a compliment for him.”
On special teams Grow blocked three punts and made eight tackles.
“He rarely comes off the field,” Miller said. “He does it all.”
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.