There is nothing quite like capping off a season with a trip to the 6A State Championships. Every runner on the starting line earned their place among the best. We just-so happened to have four among those elite: Jack Ryan, Diana Messick, Lucy Hardy, and Ruben LittleHead. A pop-up village of high school tents from 3A, 5A and 6A schools were all present with donuts and coffee in the hands of everyone walking around. The morning was beautiful and brisk with our crew of supporters huddled around the Lawrence High tent prepping for the races ahead. Jack and Ruben were to run first at 10:35 AM, so they spent the majority of the morning in seclusion; preparing mentally. The calm before the storm.
Trevor Arellano was popping in and around taking pictures while Coach Kyle was capturing video footage of the joyous occasion. And just like that, the first race was off and Jack and Ruben made their way to the starting line for some dynamics.
Toeing the line, the LHS flag waved proudly behind the two as smoke left the starter’s gun and a loud CRACK soon followed. They were off. Ruben shot the lead with Jack in tow. At the mile, Ruben had worked his way into 4th and continued to cruise. Jack followed suite. Communication was lost until the 4k mark where Jack had made up some ground and Ruben had lost some, unfortunately. Once on the skyline, Jack’s game plan was clear: “don’t let anyone pass me from here”. And he didn’t.
Jack continued to push and finish the course with a course best/personal record 16:42. While Ruben faltered a little between 3 – 4k, he put on a spurt of renewed energy coming off the skyline and crushed the last 200m for a solid 17:18 showing. Jack and Ruben racing in the State Championships has put the program on a new set of tracks for the future. We now have the ability to compete with the State’s best and next year should be a promising year for our guys.
As all of the murmur and congratulatory high-fives and laughs died away, it was time to focus on the next race of the day: the 6A Girls. Diana and Lucy were in unfamiliar territory as just the two of them were surrounded by teams on either side of them doing stride-outs and dynamics, en masse. But they did not seem phased by the enormity of the meet itself. They remained calm and collected. As the time drew near, the girls along with their supporters — many of whom were cross country kids — did a final stride out and team huddle.
As Diana and Lucy toed the line, they appeared ready and focus. The crack of the gun sent a shockwave of sound to the runners’ ears as they all dug their spikes deeper into the soft ground and catapulted themselves into the unknown. Diana and Lucy were able to establish themselves by the mile mark; both cracking 6:00. As with the boys, communication dimmed as everyone ran to various parts of the course to glimpse the progress.
At the 4k mark, Diana had moved up well, but Lucy fell a couple of places while still holding strong. The race unfolded beautifully for both ladies as they crested the iconic skyline and made a final surge into the finish straight. Diana outkicked a pesky opponent for a course best/personal record of 20:17. Lucy came barreling down the homestretch to finish in 20:43 and cap her Freshman campaign in fine fashion. As with the boys, these ladies have set the precedents on which others should strive to obtain. Our ladies have a good majority of the team returning next year and with the addition of up and coming Freshman, we should be in great position to take a team to State next fall.
In all, what a way to end the season. Four individual qualifiers and a great group of kids that made this a season to remember. We are on the edge of returning to our Lawrence High Cross Country glory, but everyone needs to stay vigilant and passionate about the common goal. Train hard in the off-season and continue to gain experience in track. Next summer should be epic and carry us down this new track of success!
— Coach Brensing, Coach Kyle, Coach Beckerman