MT Cross Country Ends Season at the State Meet

by Coach Erin Mack-Moss

This year I had 4 kids qualify for the state meet - the most I have had since our first cross country season in 2014. We were a strong and talented team this year, on both sides, with some key returners that wanted to see the state course at the end of the season. Will Owen, a junior, continued to make big strides this season placing 7th at the district meet. Will is a team leader with the mindset to always give his best performance at each race. I knew Will would be a tough contender in the state race and I think he exceeded even his expectations. Will set a new PR (personal record) for himself finishing in 56th place with a time of 18:16.8. This was his first time competing in the state meet and he gave a huge performance. Will has a unique ability to block out the stress and pressure in big races and do what he has to do to put forth his best effort. This is what sets him apart from other competitors. And, now that he has qualified once, he can't wait to do it again.

I had 3 girls qualify this season, sophomores Matera Ellis and Lauren Booth, and freshman Cynthia Resor. This was the first state meet for all three girls. Lauren finished in 100th place and Cynthia finished in 111th, at the state meet. Lauren is a strong runner and pushes herself every day to get better. Cynthia is a workhorse with the mentality to continually push herself, as well. Lauren is a motivator and team encourager, while Cynthia sets the pace at practices. Both girls set their personal best times at the district meet and prove what it takes every day at practice to get to the state championship. Matera finished in 43rd place at the state meet surpassing any expectations we had. She is one of the fiercest athletes I have ever coached. She is determined to be a top competitor and refuses to settle in a race. Her tenacity is contagious and you can see it in our girls team when they step into the starting box before a race.
It's been an exciting season! We have had some challenges, but their determination and work ethic proved this team could overcome any obstacle as long as they put their mind to it. Brandon Black and Gabe Howald just fell short of qualifying for the state meet placing 18th and 19th, respectively at the district meet. Zoe Miller, our only senior, has been a state qualifier the last two seasons and fought hard this season running with an injury to her leg. She didn't make it to state this year, but has left a lasting impact on the team. Without Zoe running, the girls team had to compete as individuals, but she stepped up and ran for us when it mattered. It was because of her strength and resilience that these girls earned first place at the Van-Far Invite and were able to compete as a team in the EMO Conference Meet and the district meet where the team placed 4th in both races. She has been a team leader and role model in this sport for the last 4 years. She has been a part of our accomplishments as we have had one of our most successful seasons and largest teams this year. Her dedication, encouragement, and work ethic will be missed, but it is those qualities that have laid the foundation for our up and coming athletes. Our underclassmen have had the privilege to practice and race with her and will continue to keep her persistent attitude.
We look to have another solid team next season. Along with Will, Gabe, and Brandon, key returners like Chase Lake, Thomas Barnes, and Colten Eisele will be back to represent our boys team. In addition, Ayiden Davis, who was sidelined with an injury this season, will look to fill a spot on the varsity squad. Rejoining Matera, Lauren, and Cynthia will be Elizabeth Northcutt and Anna Owen. All of our returners will bring experience and confidence, as well as, encouraging and positive attitudes and strong work ethics. These kids are inspirational to work with. They show up every day wanting to get better and improve. They don't complain, they give me everything they've got, and always do what is asked of them. This is a special group to coach. The qualities they possess are vital to the success of our program and its future.

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