West Platte and North Platte took full advantage of the chance to make history in the final race at the Oak Hills Golf Center at Hough Park in Jefferson City, Mo.
Both schools had all-state runners and the West Platte girls got another turn at the podium.
While the West Platte Bluejays didn’t repeat as champions, they took third place — the fifth plaque in school history and the second time the school had back-to-back podium finishes. The other was 2006 and 2007.
The team learned they were the second West Platte team to finish third on Saturday, Nov. 3, after the West Platte volleyball team accomplished that feat earlier in the day.
“We ran as good as we were going to run,” West Platte coach Mike Lowe said. “It is hard to compete when you’ve got three freshmen running under 20 for Blue Eye; and Lutheran had an awesome year and stuffed all its people together.”
“We had a good year. We certainly wish we could’ve repeated,” added Lowe.
The Bluejays had a trio of all-state runners in the girls’ race, led by Sophia Rush taking seventh place. The sophomore finished in 21 minutes, 44.14 seconds.
“We liked winning last year; it is still the same because we are a close team,” said Rush, who was 28th last year, just missing out on the top 25 spot that would’ve been all-state honors. “We still had our team and all of our girls pushed themselves as hard as they could. We knew we were coming into a harder season this year, that more people would go for us, so we pushed ourselves too.”
Junior Lexi Elmore and senior Lindsay Goodwin also had top 25 showings to earn all-state honors for the second straight year. Elmore took 19th and Goodwin was 24th. Last fall, Elmore was 10th and Goodwin finished 19th.
“I think we gave it our all and I’m glad we were all healthy,” said Elmore, who had bronchitis at last year’s race. “There is just a lot of stiff competition. We held our own.”
Between those two showings for West Platte was a bit of history for North Platte. Junior Savannah Lingle took 20th place and became the first all-state runner in the school’s history. She learned of the feat after the race.
“This is such a humbling event, knowing I would be nowhere without my support system,” said Lingle, who has asthma and frequently used an inhaler during races this year. “I’m thankful for my coaches, family, and friends, but most importantly, my team.”
Lingle noted this has been a goal since she entered junior high. She used the leadership and knowledge from upperclassmen, which includes current William Jewell runner McKenna Fulton.
“Savannah’s accomplishment speaks to the work she has put in and the discipline she has developed, as well as the obstacles she has overcome,” North Platte Coach Brendan Cary said. “She is the essence of the phrase we’ve used all season, ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’, which speaks of doing the small, gritty, unseen, often mundane things that don’t put us in the spotlight, but will pay off when the time comes. I’m very proud of her, as is our team and community.”
North Platte freshman Jenna Cassity took 29th place, missing the final all-state spot in her debut. She will look to become the second all-stater next year when the event shifts to a new location in Columbia, after 42 years in Jefferson City. “Jenna and Savannah have pushed each other all season and I know they are already looking forward to next year,” Cary said.
Also running for West Platte was Bella Clark, Katy Tharp, Lea Moose and Katie Groom. Clark took 36th, a big jump from finishing 128th last year.
Showcasing small-town athletics, Moose and Goodwin played softball and Tharp was a member of the volleyball team, who was with the team on Friday in Cape Girardeau for the first three games of the state finals. Though she didn’t advance to state, North Platte loses senior Jessica Meadows, a softball player who joined the team to help North Platte score as a team in conference and districts.
Moose leaves West Platte as the most decorated runner in school history with two all-state medals her first two years and two team medals the past two years.
The team championship and top four teams had a Northwest Missouri flavor. Kansas City Lutheran won the state title. West Platte took third and St. Joseph Christian finished fourth, the second time in two weeks it came in behind West Platte in the standings.
West Platte had 92 points in team standings, which was lower than last year’s 104 that was enough to win the title. Lutheran, who beat West Platte at the West Platte Invitational late in the year, had five runners in the top 30.
Blue Eye freshmen Riley Arnold and Avery Arnold had a 1-2 to finish, helping the team place second.