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What a Finish!

It was a day to remember. All of the hours spent running and doing core work came together Saturday (10/26) at the beautiful Milford State Park outside of Junction City, KS. Going into the meet, we had an idea that our teams would be somewhere in the top-5 but we were not sure how close to 3rd place (last qualifying spot) they would be. Anything can happen at Regionals and it definitely showed.

Our girls took off promptly at 10AM and Diana and Lucy immediately established themselves as the course quickly narrowed in the 400m stretch of downhill. The rest of the girls settled in and worked their way through the packs as the race progressed. With 1K to go, Diana had solidified her position in the top-10 with Lucy not too far behind and Sophie making up some valuable ground as she was only 10 or so meters behind Lucy. Maddie had come through 2-Miles not too far off from Sophie, but the hills started to rear their ugly heads and wear her down, but she held strong. Eva and Grace worked together after 2-Miles to ensure a strong finish.

The finish was exciting as Diana made a final surge on the uphill to break apart a strong Hutchinson contingent and nab 8th place. Lucy held onto her 15th place and in doing so, snagged the last individual qualifying spot for State. The heartbreak comes with Sophie holding on for 16th and missing State by one spot. The rest of the crew came rolling in; holding their positions well. At the end of it all and the dust had settled, it was determined that our Lady Lion Harriers ended up 4th in the team standings; 15 points behind Free State. While not the overall finish any of them had hoped for, valuable experience was gained with the fight and persistence they showed. To understand how great their placing and performances truly were, the last time the girls notched a top-5 finish was in 2012.

All of them grew as runners and individuals. They proved that they could put their minds over the circumstances of a tough course, over the fierce competition, over the injuries and push themselves passed their limits. Two ladies are headed to State and that is two more than last year, so we as coaches are tickled to death.

As the ladies went for their cool-down and gathered themselves and discussed their performances, the boys were toeing the line; ready to make their own history. The gun fired at 10:45AM and the gates opened to a stampede of runners jockeying for position. Ruben and Jack put themselves in the top-10 early and took it upon themselves to not relinquish those positions. And they didn't. The rest of the team put themselves in great positioning through the mile, but as with many of the runners, the hills crushed their spirits and they held on with whatever gas they had left in the tank.

With 600m to go, Ruben and Jack were still holding tight but not without fighting through fatigue. As they rounded the tree line for the homestretch, Ruben separated himself from others and powered up the hill to a 7th place finish. Jack held off an onslaught of kickers to take 10th. Both earned All-Region honors. The rest of the Lions barreled their way home and helped the team to a 4th place finish. While their gap between 3rd was a lot greater than the girls, the success is nevertheless the same. The boys had not gotten into the top-5 at Regionals since 2010, so this is a huge step in the right direction for the program.

So, in all, we left Junction City with four State qualifiers and two fourth place team finishes. By and large our best year as coaches — team finish-wise. We are excited to put in one more week of work before the big dance and conclude this season on top.

Our teams will return next year fully loaded and ready to qualify; mark our words. We have our eyes on a few up-and-coming 8th graders who have turned some heads during their middle school seasons. It is a wonderful time to be a Chesty Lion runner with a beautiful, bright future on the horizon!

Thank you again to all of the parents throughout the entire season for providing their help with everything from race-day organization to hosting pasta feeds. You are the building blocks to where this program is hoping to go and we appreciate you greatly!

Thank you!

— Coach Brensing, Coach Kyle, and Coach Beckerman

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