Ridder, Ohio’s top girls cross country runner, headed to Penn State


Cincinnati Oak Hills senior Brooklyne Ridder won her second D-I state title. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

Cincinnati Oak Hills senior cross country/track standout Brooklyne Ridder embraced sacrifice the past four years and reaped an ultimate reward for it this winter when she earned a college scholarship. Ridder never faired worse than second at the state meet in four trips and won her second state title this season.

Cincinnati Oak Hills senior cross country/track standout Brooklyne Ridder embraced sacrifice the past four years and reaped an ultimate reward for it this winter when she earned a college scholarship.

It goes without saying Ridder was certainly disciplined in her approach. She used to make sure she was in bed by 9 o’clock each Friday night – she’d regularly miss her school’s football games – in order to be prepared for cross country meets on Saturday mornings.

That preparation helped pave the way for Ridder to win her second Division I state cross country title this fall. After winning a state title as a freshman, Ridder was state runner-up her sophomore and junior seasons. So it seemed only fitting she would be the first to cross the finish line in her final meet at Scioto Downs.

“My biggest accomplishments that make me the most proud are my two state titles,” Ridder said. “It obviously takes a lot of hard work to achieve something so big and I’m proud of myself for how much I sacrificed for the sport.”

Ridder, the Huntington Bank/Ohio High Magazine Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, recently committed to compete at Penn State.

Ridder, who also considered Ohio State, Wake Forest and Iowa among others, said she could envision herself living on the Penn State campus next fall. She was impressed by her future teammates, coaches and the facilities.

“I had to follow my gut feeling on this decision,” Ridder said, “and in an all-around sense I felt much more comfortable at this school. The team is made up of girls whom I feel am very similar too.”

Ridder will join former Crestwood standout Bridget Franek with the Nittany Lions. Cincinnati St. Ursula coach Jeff Branhan said the two Ohio standouts will form a talented duo within the Penn State program.

“I have no doubt that Brooklyne will excel in her new setting at Penn State and will make an immediate impact in the Big Ten,” Branhan said. “She is very excited about being surrounded by teammates who are as driven as she is and share common goals.”

Ridder said she would like to major in biology in college and eventually become a dentist. She has already gained some experience by shadowing some dentists.

“I’ve wanted to get into cosmetic dentistry since I was 13 and it hasn’t changed since,” said Ridder, who noted her favorite subjects are English and science.

Oak Hills athletic director Jan Wilking said Ridder is a model student-athlete who gives a strong effort in the classroom. Wilking said the school is very proud of Ridder’s two state titles.

“She has a great passion to be the best,” Wilking said.

The drive for excellence is evident in Ridder. She admits it was difficult to start her high school career with a state title. It would be for anyone so young to reach the pinnacle. The expectations increased each year, but she handled them well and kept her focus on the bigger picture.

“Even though I was runner-up the following two years, I couldn’t be upset with myself because my times were improving and I was running the best I ever had,” Ridder said. “I ran a 17:38 my junior year which any other year would be promising for the win. However, I took what I was dealt and worked as hard as I could. That’s all I really can ask of myself.”

It all came full circle this fall as Ridder won for a final time at Scioto Downs. She soaked in the entire atmosphere of the meet. The state meet was truly a special and unique place for Ridder, who vividly recalls the first time she was there.

“My freshman year – looking up at the stands and seeing that large of a crowd was breathtaking,” Ridder said. “I don’t think I realized how big of a deal the state race was. The feeling still didn’t change throughout all of high school. You can go back year after year and the environment that is at Scioto Downs is absolutely amazing the day of the race.”

Ridder put pressure on herself this year because she wanted to end her career just as it started. She didn’t want anyone to think she had fallen off as a runner. In the end, that made the second state title that much more sweet in November.

“When I crossed the finish line that day, it was the first time I ever cried tears of joy,” Ridder said. “I had (reporters) coming up and I had to tell them to give me a minute to gather myself because I was so caught up in the moment. I will say that day was the most satisfying, sweetest, race of my life.”

Ridder who has been state runner-up twice in the 3,200 run in track, said she will be training this winter and is looking forward to the outdoor track season.

“It feels extremely good to be able to say I never finished worse than second place at a state race for cross country or track,” Ridder said. “I hope to do just as well this upcoming track season.”

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