Sometimes, the legacy an athlete leaves on a program goes past the school’s record boards.
While all of the medals and plaques have their place in history, the ripples that Seymour High School senior Ashton Chase made on the cross-country program will be felt for years to come.
“There are little girls out there that know her,” Seymour coach Spencer Sunbury said. “We don’t have a lot of cross-country runners in this community that kids know who they are. It’s not a sport that always gets a lot of attention. They know Ashton Chase and look up to her. She has gotten us noticed more as a sport and team and has proven what hard work and determination can do.”
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In 2018, Chase continued to prove that she is one of the top runners in Indiana.
The senior placed fourth at the Hoosier Hills Conference meet, hosted by Floyd Central, in 19 minutes, 26 seconds to make the All-HHC team for the fourth straight year.
After finishing runner-up at the Brown County Sectional the following week, Chase won the regional at Eagle Park in 18:47. She is the only Seymour girls runner to win the race as an individual.
Sunbury said the regional race is one he will never forget because of the dramatic finish (winning by 39-hundredths of a second) and Chase breaking 19 minutes for the first time in almost two years.
“High school girls, it’s tough in the sophomore and junior years. There’s a lot they need to fight through to maintain their career,” Sunbury said. “It hasn’t always been easy for Ashton. Her regional run was the first time she was under 19 minutes since her sophomore year. For her to be able to maintain and run at the level she did says a lot about her determination and character.”
In the semistate, Chase took fifth to secure a fourth straight trip to the state finals in Terre Haute. At state, Chase finished 93rd of 208 runners.
She is the only female runner in Seymour history to run in the state championship meet all four years.
“I had no clue it would happen. Coming in as a freshman, you don’t have that mindset,” Chase said of going to state four times. “It’s just crazy now. It’s surreal being a senior and having everything be over.”
Going into high school, Chase said she didn’t know her career would blossom as it did.
“My parents,” Chase said of who pushed her. “I had no idea that I would be running. I never thought I would be a runner. I thought I would be playing basketball or doing something else.”
Due to her speed, Sunbury had to individualize workouts for Chase throughout her career.
“It was a lot of fun. The approach to coaching her is completely different to the approach for some of the other girls,” Sunbury said. “She gives me more of a chance to talk race strategy. It’s fun to create workouts around a runner like Ashton. You know she is going to give you a true evaluation on any workout. I get more from her than she has ever gotten from me.”
Chase said she has a support system that helped her through the years.
“The community has done so much for me,” she said. “Being recognized means a lot. Everyone who has supported me has helped me get to where I am right now.”
The senior plans on running on college and said she has narrowed her decision down to four schools.
Sunbury said whichever college program gets Chase is getting a winner.
“They’re going to get a kid that they can invest in,” Sunbury said. “A lot of runners coming out of high school have a lot of miles and not a lot of legs left once they get to college. With Ashton being a three-sport athlete, she has never ran year-round. She doesn’t have as many miles. A college coach gets to look forward to her just tapping into her potential. They are getting someone that will work hard and be a competitor to run for them. It will be exciting.”
For all of her accomplishments this season, The Tribune has named Chase the Jackson County Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year — the third straight year she has earned the honor.
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Joining Chase on the 2018 All-Jackson County girls cross-country team:
Kaylyn Holman, Crothersville, Freshman
Accomplishments: School’s first state qualifier, Southern Athletic Conference champion, Hanover Sectional champion, eight individual wins, season-best 19:14.9 (school record).
Grace Wilson, Crothersville, Sophomore
Accomplishments: All-SAC, semistate individual qualifier, season-best 20:33.46, eight top-10 finishes.
Kaelyn Johnson, Brownstown Central, Senior
Accomplishments: Semistate individual qualifier, four-time All-Mid-Southern Conference, BC most valuable runner, eight top-10 finishes, season-best 20:54.
Shauna Drake, Brownstown Central, Senior
Accomplishments: All-MSC, individual regional qualifier, BC most improved award, season-best 21:41, two top-10 finishes.
Grace Garland, Brownstown Central, Junior
Accomplishments: All-MSC honorable mention, individual regional qualifier, season-best 22:01.
Grace Rennekamp, Seymour, Junior
Accomplishments: All-HHC honorable mention, helped Owls advance to semistate, season-best 20:54.
Brett Kleber, Seymour, Senior
Accomplishments: Helped Owls advance to semistate, season-best time 21:01.
Makenna Sunbury, Seymour, Junior
Accomplishments: Season-best 21:11.
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2018 Jackson County Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year
Ashton Chase, Seymour, Senior
Season-best time: 18:47
Accomplishments: 2018 regional champion, four-time state qualifier, four-time All-Hoosier Hills Conference, finished 93rd of 208 at state, SHS most valuable runner, three-time Jackson County Runner of the Year.