Girls cross country finishes runner-up at state


Courtesy of Allen Clinton

Head Coach Jeff Cramer and the top seven runners celebrate with their second-place trophy, making school history in the state cross country meet. Left to right: Cramer, junior Jameson Knight, senior Sarah Prevost, senior Sally Thompson, senior Emilia Weinrobe, sophomore Cate Barton, sophomore Sierra Pape, and 7th-place finisher, junior Cary Schroeder.

Archer Streelman

For the first time in school history, the girls cross country team placed second at the state meet. The team finished with 111 points and an average time of 21:42, placing behind the first-place finisher, Decatur, which scored 29 points, with an average time of 20:56. 

“Decatur was stacked this year; so, second behind them was incredible for us,” senior Sarah Prevost said. “We were actually taking a team picture when we heard the news that we placed second, and everyone immediately jumped up and cheered.” 

Junior Cary Schroeder led the team, placing 7th, in 20:55.78, followed by sophomore Cate Barton, Prevost, sophomore Sierra Pape and junior Jameson Knight. These five runners contributed to the team’s average race time and score.  

Despite a projection of a lower finish entering the meet, the team surpassed expectations. 

“We were ranked a good bit lower, but it was pretty close among the top 2-6 place teams in 5A,” Prevost said. “While we secured third last year, narrowly beating Decatur, and finishing only behind teams that left our division. We had a pretty good shot this year. However, with Jamie (Marlowe) being out this  season and battling a few other injuries on the team, making the podium was not a guarantee.” 

Head coach Jeff Cramer said the small distance between the first and last-scoring runners helped the team place so high. 

“Everyone was important, our top five all placed in the top 36 runners, which is the way to stack them in,” Cramer said. “Cary finishing in the top 10 is huge; that basically gives you a number that you can essentially just throw out.  Jameson ran a lot better than we thought at number five, and finished 36th, and everyone else ran between them; so from 7 to 36 that’s only 30 places.” 

The strong sophomore and junior performances were essential for the finish and the future of the program.

“Expectations for the season were probably a little higher because we did pretty well last year and we didn’t have to worry about losing people from last year’s team,” Prevost said. “Many of the freshmen and sophomores were strong and vital parts of the team, which will hopefully lead to more top finishes in the future. Our top finisher at state, junior Cary Schroeder, will continue to progress and lead the team as she continues into her senior year.” 

Injuries and illnesses made the top seven runners each meet change. Senior Emilia Weinrobe credits Knight for stepping up at the state meet.

“I experienced a stress fracture in my foot earlier this year and ran state after not running for a month. Jumping into three weeks of easy mileage was not enough to prepare me for state,” Weinrobe said. “I watched Jameson really step up and run with confidence at state, and I am in awe at how amazing she performed and ran. It was incredible.” 

The unique race qualities made the strong performance even more rewarding. 

“This race was unlike any state experience I have had,” Pape said.  “It was at 2:45 in the afternoon when most times you race in the morning, and it was extremely hot. The state course is built to be a challenge with hills, so this was an extremely challenging race with the added factors. Many girls got heat stroke and collapsed. I am so proud of the strength of our team to push through this race and come out strong.”

Each runner had workouts catered to things they could improve upon to have the most productive season, in addition to the frequent team runs. 

“Our training was really emphasized this year with very intentional training sessions and positive team spirit,’’ Prevost said. “Everyone probably has their own specific workout that they would credit to their success this season. For me, the morning track workouts definitely helped me improve my speed, which was something that I needed to work on. Teamwork during races and at practice also helped because we tried to run as a pack or with another teammate at all times to help push each other and keep everyone on track.” 

Barton credits much of the team’s achievements to Cramer’s coaching and time commitment. 

“The most exciting part of placing second was breaking the school record, and I was excited for coach Cramer because it proved to him all his work paid off,” Barton said. “[Coach] Cramer has put in so much effort into this team as he has been for years. This year, to make sure we would get all the work in, he would offer morning track practices and really sacrificed a lot of his time for the team’s success.”

For some, finishing as state runner-up was bittersweet since the state meet will be their last high school cross country meet.

“I am very sad my high school cross country season has come to an end,” Weinrobe said. “I wish my last season had ended differently, but unfortunately that was not the case. However, I loved watching all the girls’ faces when we were informed we got second. It made me so happy that I didn’t even care that my last high school cross country race went badly. Just seeing them so happy was all I could have asked for. I can’t wait to see how well they run next year.”