Bluebirds Girls Finish 2A State Runner-Up
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands girls cross country team finished Class 2A state runner-up with 115 points at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.|
Highlands sophomore Maggie Schroeder crosses the finish line as the school's first individual state champion in Girls Cross Country History in 19 minutes, 7.68 seconds.
The Highlands Bluebirds girls cross country team can now say it has the first individual state champion in school history.
Sophomore Maggie Schroeder brought it home pulling away in 19 minutes, 7.68 seconds at Kentucky Horse Park on Saturday. Schroeder finished state runner-up last year in 19:17.78 behind Rockcastle County junior Victoria Dotson. Dotson won it in 19:15.8 last year.
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But it was not close this time around. Christian Academy of Louisville's Addie Dewey took second in 19:24.89. Dotson finished 33rd in 21:03.7. Schroeder pulled away in the middle of the race.
"It's something I've been working on all year," Schroeder said. "Typically in the past, I've never, ever pulled away during a race. But this year, I did at (the Northern Kentucky Athletic) conference and at regionals. It just become easier. You just have to have that mindset like, 'You have to go and you have to stay ahead.' Also, it's a lot of lack of thinking. You don't want to think that you're hurting. You have to knock the negative thoughts out and replace them with positive thoughts."
The only thing Schroeder expressed disappointment in was not running under 19 minutes. She took a wrong turn for about 20 meters in the last mile before her teammates and coaches pointed her in the right direction.
The Highlands boys saw 2016 graduate Ethan Shuley win back-to-back individual state championships in 2014 and 2015. He was the first boys individual state champion in school history.
As a team, the Highlands girls could not snatch their seventh state championship in the last eight years. The Class 2A, Region 4 rival Scott Lady Eagles edged out the Bluebirds by nine points, 106-115 for the state championship. But five of the seven Highlands runners are in middle school.
"That's a good sign," said Brian Alessandro, Highlands Head Coach. "We didn't really know who we were going to have running in this even two weeks ago. These girls ran really well I think as fast as they could have (Saturday). Scott is a solid team. The scores were actually a bit higher than they have been in the past. But we're lucky to have second. Some teams don't get that high up. I'm happy with it."
Highlands won four straight state championships between 2012 and 2015. After finishing state runner-up to the Christian Academy of Louisville in 2016, Highlands won it again last year.
Highlands had beaten Scott in the region meet last week in Dry Ridge. The Bluebirds had 49 points. Scott and Bourbon County finished runner-up with 55 points.
The first two runners placed well ahead of Scott's first two. After freshman Dyllan Hasler took sixth in 19:46.29, Highlands eighth grader Alyssa Harris finished ninth in 19:56.48. Scott's second runner in seventh grader Maddie Strong took 20th in 20:33.58.
Scott caught up with its third and fourth runners in eighth grader Allison Clemons at 23rd in 20:41.41 and sophomore Laney Coleman 27th in 20:51.79. Highlands eighth grader Ruby Smith took 38th in 21:11.94.
"I just think that we just have such good high schoolers on the team," Smith said. "They're such good leaders and they all really inspire us to run as fast as we can because they're so nice and welcoming."
Two seventh graders finished off the Highlands scoring. Lilli Hoffmeister finished 42nd in 21:24.38 and Laney Smith finished 43rd in 21:25.04. The other two runners in eighth grader Eden Brumer finished 47th in 21:28.32 and junior Alissa Campbell finished 50th out of 236 runners in 21:32.89.
The Highlands boys finished sixth with 214 points. Region 4 rival Lexington Catholic won the boys 2A state championship with 85 points.
"The boys team is pretty young as well," Alessandro said. "We have a mix of younger guys that I think in the next couple years will really make a run for a state title."
Sophomore Will Griffith and eighth grader Sam Hopper continued to lead the Bluebirds. Griffith finished 18th out of 254 runners in 17:31.74 and Hopper took 19th in 17:35.36. Griffith said the excessive rain in Lexington all week leading up to the state meet made the course tougher to run on.
"I thought we ran the best we could," Griffith said. "That's all you can ask for. I think (the muddy) course affected some people more than others."
Sophomore Peter Laskey took 59th in 18:20.77 and junior Grant Uhlenbrock finished 62nd in 18:22.83. Senior Ethan Myers finished 79th in 18:35.51.
Freshman Will White and senior Donovan Staab also ran for the Bluebirds. White finished 85th in 18:42.04 and Staab finished 218th in 21:14.7.
The Bluebirds have three boys cross country Class 2A state championships in school history. They finished state runner-up in 2015. Those championships came in 1985, 1983 and 1979.