SALEM — Ava Bordner has been on a mission all season and on Saturday she accomplished it — becoming a state champion.

The Skyline junior won her first individual state title with a time of 18:30.1 in the Class 3 Cross County State Championships held at Green Hill Park in Salem.

“It feels really good,” Bordner said. “It’s awesome. A lot of times I don’t set a high, high goal and achieve it, and since I achieved it, I feel really good. I’m really excited. I’m excited to go home and call my friends and celebrate. I’m just excited to celebrate.”

Last season Bordner led most of the race, but was passed toward the end of the race and finished second. She said it felt good to come back and win it.

Bordner had a familiar face right behind her throughout the race as Warren County sophomore Kaley Tanner finished second in a time of 18:44.9. Tanner helped Warren County finish second as a team in the girls meet.

“It’s good to get second as team,” Tanner said. “We all did our best out there. We were all pushing ourselves and we all did our best. That’s all we can ask.”

Bordner and Tanner were in first and second from start to finish. They pulled away from the rest of the runners early in the race.

They were still close together until the last mile where Bordner began to pull away. Bordner did track and field last season and worked on shorter distances so that she would finish stronger in cross country and it paid off.

“In my head, I was mentally ready,” Bordner said. “I was prepared. I had trained for it. We went to walk the course (Friday), and I was just marking down the last 800 (where she lost the lead last season), and I really think I improved a lot. I started speeding up right there.”

Bordner said it’s great to have Tanner there pushing her throughout the races.

“All I had was positive thoughts, trying to push Kaley through — which she did phenomenal,” Bordner said. “I knew she was right behind me. I was really, really excited that she was. I was hoping that she would get up next to me. I use her to help push me. She’s pushed me so far, and I hope I’m pushing her too — because she’s insane.”

Tanner said she gave it everything she had and was happy with how she did.

“I kept with Ava throughout most of the race,” Tanner said. “I felt like I did a pretty good job. I earned my spot. ...I could have caught her. I could have kept with her, but I just couldn’t push myself any harder. I was struggling on that finish I was just so dead. I pushed myself and I struggled well.”

After the race was over Bordner and Tanner were separated and didn’t get to talk to each other until 15 minutes later. Once they saw each other the two friends embraced in a big hug.

“It just feels so good — me and Ava being 1 and 2,” Tanner said. “It’s awesome, especially being in the same county — the two fastest runners at states. It’s amazing. Ava really helped me push myself to my limits today.”

It’s Warren County’s first-ever state runner-up finish in girls cross country. The Wildcats finished with 97 points, while Maggie Walker won with 72.

Warren County’s other top runners were Ryleigh Breeden (22nd, 20:12.4), Amber Riley (30th, 20:18.8), Nicole Ranney (33rd, 20:28.8), Leah Webster (48th, 21:26.6), Audrey Moya (52nd, 21:37.9) and Ella Martin (53rd, 21:43.6).

“I’m so proud of the girls,” Warren County coach Mike Tanner said. “We had a great season, especially our two seniors who bounced back from last year. Leah (Webster) didn’t run last year, and Ryleigh (Breeden) was hurting. We definitely overcame some adversity throughout this season. We were fighting for that top spot. But you know what? The chips fell where they did, and we came up a little short. But I’m proud of how they battled. We had a little strategy today and did the best we could.”

Skyline coach Misty Bordner, Ava’s mom, said she was very happy with how her daughter performed in the state meet.

“I’m just so proud of her,” Misty Bordner said. “It was amazing to watch — third time’s a charm. I’m just ecstatic. I’m at a loss for words.”

Skyline’s only other runner was Sophie Jensen, who finished 50th in a time of 21:35.6.

“I’m so proud of her as well,” Misty Bordner said. “It was a good day, good race. Coming into it, this was her first state meet and she was a senior. So there were some nerves there, but I think she handled it well and she raced well. And I’m just happy that (Jensen and Ava Bordner) got to do this together and for her senior year — that’s incredible.”

Warren County’s boys team finished 11th with 259 points. Abingdon won the team title with 33 points, followed by Maggie Walker (86) and Charlottesville 127).

The Wildcats were led by Clayton Rankin (50th, 17:39.6), Patrick Treutlein (55th, 17:46.6), Emil Stanford (59th, 17:53.1), Zane Clark (88th, 18:50.3), Shea Henson (89th, 19:10.5), Carlos Billy (90th, 19:12.0) and Anthony Carter (102nd, 20:19.3). Stanford is usually the team’s top runner and he finished second in the Region 3B Championships. Mike Tanner said he had an off day, but he was still proud of how everyone performed.

“Emil just didn’t have it today,” Mike Tanner said. “It’s unfortunate having a bad race at states, but it is what it is. I thought Clayton (Rankin) stepped up really well. I thought Patrick (Treutlein) finished up his career really well. They had a good season, too. We tried to put it together throughout the season, and they were definitely underdogs throughout the season. They had a great regional race. It just didn’t happen for them here today.”

Ava Bordner said she was proud of how she did, becoming Skyline’s first-ever cross country state champion, and of all the other runners who were there.

“I’m so glad of what I did today,” she said. “I’m proud of everyone because it’s so hard to come out here — by choice — and go through this pain — by choice. And then finish it — by choice. And either be happy or sad — it’s 50-50. Half the people here are probably upset that they didn’t get what they wanted. Half of us did get what we wanted. It’s a win or lose. And I’m really excited about today.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at