The St. Paul sophomore was nearly a full minute ahead of second place on Saturday in winning the individual title at the Firelands Conference cross country championships for a second straight season.
The state qualifier turned in a time of 19:33.81— a full five seconds better than last year’s 19:38.39 time when she won as a freshman. Her personal best is a 19:30 at the John Speer Invitational at Western Reserve on Sept. 30.
“I was excited with the time,” Dowdell said. “I was definitely pumped before the race to be out there for my team. We’ve struggled a lot this season with injuries, but were able to come back by conference.
“I knew everyone would try their best today, and that motivated me to run my best, too,” she added. “There is a lot of great competition this year in our conference, especially through the teams.”
St. Paul took third place as a team, as solid depth helped the Flyers place four runners total in the top 20.
Ally Brown (22:06.25) was 14th overall, followed by Kylie McDonnell (22:21.32) in 18th and Claire Ceccoli (22:39.84) in 20th.
Also for St. Paul, Alexandra Abel (23:15.01) was 27th, Anne Ware (25:02.85) was 36th and Maggie Centa (25:38.72) was 39th.
Meanwhile, in the last three weeks, Dowdell has turned in times ranging from 19:30.5 (John Speer Invite) to 19:34.05, which she ran at the New London Dan Olien Invite just last week.
“I just wanted to give it my all, and I wanted to PR today — but I’ll get after it in the postseason,” Dowdell said.
After advancing out of the districts and regionals in Division III a year ago, Dowdell placed 59th out of 179 runners at the 2016 state championships.
The district meet begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at Galion, with two races advancing the top four qualifiers to the regionals at Tiffin.
“I’m excited knowing what it entails now,” Dowdell said of the tournament. “Last year, it was more of a go with it, go with flow. This year, I’m pumped to go and do better — especially at regionals — and see where it takes me.”