The girls’ cross country team captured their elusive first state championship with freshman Hanna Keltner and sophomore Sydney Owens finishing second and third in the race to help secure first place.
The state championship evaded their grasp over the last three years with two second-place finishes and one third-place finish, but the girls overcame defending champion Baldwin to finish first this year.
“Our team is just a wonderful team,” Keltner said. “We all are just so selfless, and we care about one another so much. It just feels so great to finally get this championship. I’ve been watching this team since I was 9 years old, so it’s nice to finally get a state championship and as a freshman, it’s amazing.”
Senior Mackenzie Mayer has run cross country since middle school and said the past six years have finally paid off.
“It is incredible. It’s our turn, it was our turn to win it,” she said. “I’m just so proud of coach Barnard for getting us here. I’m so proud of our team for pushing ourselves to get here. Oh my God, it’s amazing.”
As Mayer was taking in the victory at state, she said it will be exciting to look back at the history the team made.
“It’s indescribable,” she said. “I’m still kind of in awe of everything, but it’s amazing. I can’t wait to come back in 20 years and be like, ‘That was me.’”
Sophomore Phoebe Fletcher was confident the team could win at state following the Frontier League meet. She believes the team’s first state championship will mean even more as time passes.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “I am really proud of our team for winning it and just working hard. I think looking back on it, it’ll have a bigger impact, but I think that’s pretty amazing that it’s the first year.”
As the team huddled as the results were coming in, head coach Jim Barnard was trying to calculate the results to see where the team finished.
“I actually wasn’t down around the team when they learned because I stayed away and I was doing the math and trying to figure out,” he said. “I thought we had it, but where I was standing, I didn’t see the last 300 meters of the race, so you never know how things finished up, but I thought the math looked good. A stressful five minutes or so waiting for the team official results.”
Senior Stella Whalen reflected on the times the team encouraged each other during practice while running up hills because they knew there would be tough hills to run at state.
“It feels like all our hard work has finally paid off," she said. “The depth of our team is what makes it possible and just how close we are together.”
Barnard is happy the girls were able to win at state after coming close so many times.
“We’ve been on the doorstep for the last few years, just kind of right there and not able to close the deal, so I just feel very proud of these girls,” he said. “I’m very happy for them and that they’ve been able to do it.”
The boys’ team finished fifth at state with the top two finishers, sophomore Zach Arnold and senior Cody Loganbill, finishing at sixth and 27th respectively.
“Last year, I didn’t even finish,” Arnold said. “I got sick during the race, so turning around and getting top-10 is a big step forward and I’m really excited.”
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