Headed For Another Perfect Season
November 3, 2017
Leah Roter took another win on Oct. 28 at the OHSAA Northeast Ohio Division II Regional Cross Country Meet at Boardman High School in Youngstown, qualifying for her third trip to the OHSAA State Championship.
At publication, Roter is headed to the National Trail Raceway in Hebron, where she will compete on Saturday, Nov. 3 for her second straight state title.
“It would mean a whole lot to have another state title,” she wrote in an email. “Physically I have gotten much stronger from last year, and I have been preparing myself mentally since the end of track season.”
Roter has been working hard to build on her success last season.
“Speed work throughout the season has definitely improved my starts and finishes,” she wrote.
Roter’s reputation preceeds her as a cross country runner who has been undefeated since Aug. 2016.
Athletic Director Ryan Peters says Beachwood has never had an athlete like Leah.
“She’s a state champion in track and cross country. No other athlete has ever done this,” Peters said. “If she continues to work how she does now, she [will reach] Olympic level.”
Roter began running track in 8th grade.
“She kept to herself, she came kind of out of nowhere,” Peters said. “She just got good really quick.”
“She beat the state runner-up from last year by one minute; nobody does that,” Peters said. “I remember getting a phone call from [cross country coach Jamie] Lader … [Lader] was just screaming for five minutes, ‘Leah made states! Leah made states!’ It was amazing.”
Peters had a lot to say about Leah’s development over her high school career.
“She used to be really shy about being successful,” Peters said. “Now she accepts the responsibility of being a champ.”
Peters has been impressed by Leah’s continued ability to dominate this season.
“She has a target on her back, but she’s beaten everybody in all divisions,” Peters said.
Sophomore Vivian Li, a teammate of Roter’s, said everybody on the cross country team aspires to be like Roter, as she unifies the team and puts her heart into being the best.
“We all look to [Leah] for an example of how we should run,” Li said. “She never slacks off, and she always shows that you can work up to her level.”
However, Coach Lader emphasized that Roter’s success has been achieved through hard work.
“Like all other kids, we expect her to do the best she can do. We hope to see her accomplish more and more each time.”
“I cannot thank Coach Lader enough for how much he has made me a stronger person and athlete,” Roter wrote. “Every day after a long day of school, he is there to help improve my performance.”
“He strongly believes that health is the most important aspect of running, and therefore he emphasizes keeping me healthy as well,” she added.
Next year, Roter will be attending Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina to further her cross country and academic experiences. She will be attending on a full athletic scholarship.
“She’ll be signing her NLI [national letter of intent] on November 8th, so then it’ll be official,” Peters said.
Furman is one of the top cross country schools in the country, so Roter has an interest in going there for obvious reasons. Peters said that Leah wants to go into nutrition and that Furman has an extensive nutrition program.
Roter has obviously made a huge impact on the team.
“Beachwood [might] never have another Leah,” Peters said. “Everybody truly strives to be as good as her.”
“Everybody will really miss her. Seeing her run is a great thing,” she said. “She left a big legacy that won’t go away for a long time.”
According to Peters, this really was the year of the girls in BHS athletics. Roter has been integral to this success.
“I’ve witnessed some of the greatest athletes, but this one is different,” Peters said.
Peters truly believes that Leah is an amazing athlete, yet well-rounded. She succeeds in school and participates in other activities.
“Leah truly is the pinnacle of athletes,” Peters said. “[She] has raised the bar higher than we’ve ever had it before.”
“To be back at the State Championships it exciting, overwhelming, and bittersweet at the same time,” Roter wrote. “This will be my last high school cross country race, but this is only the beginning of my running career, where I will strive to be a faster and stronger athlete in college.”
(Photo by Jakin Wu)