Borthwick turning late-season heartache into fuel for junior year

Aug. 2—For three of the final four weeks of the 2022 season, the trio of Kirtland’s Ainsley Borthwick, Wickliffe’s Markalla Tumbry and Grand Valley’s Annie Steimle battled for the conference title and advancement slots in the postseason.

In the CVC Valley meet, Steimle finished ahead of Tumbry and Borthwick and claimed the conference title as the trio took over the podium. At the D-III Madison District, Borthwick jumped both of them to take third in the meet as all three advanced to regionals.

At Boardman, the three again were in a heated battle but rather than at the front of the pack, they were jockeying for positions with the final transfer spots. Steimle finished in 15th to secure her advancement to the state meet.

Borthwick and Tumbry, like the past two weeks, battled for the final advancement spot. After she was bested at the CVC meet, Borthwick looked to carry the momentum into regionals and advance to the D-III state meet.

But Tumbry pulled away in the final stretch to secure the final transfer spot and put an abrupt end to the season of the Hornets runner.

With her junior year upon her, Borthwick enters the season determined to avenge the heartbreak from a season ago.

“I think it was really just the nerves that got to me,” Borthwick said. “I was talking to my dad before the race and I even said to him ‘What if I get one place off?’ and he said ‘Well someone’s got to be it’. I was still proud of how I placed and am looking forward to being able to reach that point this year.”

While last season didn’t end in the way that she wanted, Borthwick still composed a strong sophomore campaign. Along with her third-place finishes at both the CVC meet and districts, she had three other top-10 finishes.

Borthwick said she can use the momentum as an early catalyst for the beginning of her junior season.

She is happy with the results from a year ago, she never had a finish outside of the top 30 in any meet. Even with how the season ended on a sour note, Borthwick wouldn’t change anything about last season.

“I was working really hard in those weeks but I didn’t want to overwork myself, either,” Borthwick said. “I was having fun, going out for it at meets and seeing what would happen. It was a good challenge for me and one that I was happy to be able to face going into this season.”

This year, however, there is a big change as she has taken on the leadership role for the team. While it’s a big adjustment, Borthwick is making the change with familiar faces around her.

Kirtland returns six of its seven runners from last year’s CVC Valley championship and district runner-up finishes. Having that familiarity has made the adjustment a little bit easier for her to handle.

The team is trying to follow up on that season, and they know that it is going to be a big challenge. However, they know that at every meet and every practice, their teammates will have their backs and be ready for the challenges that the season presents them.

“It’s different since two years ago I was the new face that was just trying to fit in,” Borthwick said. “Now I’m trying to become a better leader mentally to be able to help the girls around me. The mental aspect is the hardest thing for all of us to tackle on the course and we’re trying to get ourselves the things to do right and be ready for the challenge of the season.”

Borthwick and Kirtland come out of the gate firing as they tackle two of the biggest early-season meets. Their season starts with the Riverside Kickoff Invitational on Aug. 26 and follow it up with the Mentor Cardinal Classic on Sept. 2.

Borthwick is looking forward to the challenging start to the season.

“I’m really excited especially for the Mentor meet,” Borthwick said. “I’ve always heard it’s a fun meet and a good flat course. But I’m most excited to bring my own time down even lower. That’s my motivation for this year.”

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