Lady Comets earn fifth at state;
everyone set PRs along the way
Fatima’s girls’ cross-country team was predicted to finish as low as ninth at Saturday’s Class 3 …
Fatima’s girls’ cross-country team was predicted to finish as low as ninth at Saturday’s Class 3 championships at Gans Creek in Columbia, but Coach Marc Bridges and the Lady Comets saw an opportunity to improve and took advantage of that. All seven runners ran personal-best times.
“Most teams that claimed the fourth and final position at districts may have lowered expectations about a team finish heading into state, but our girls saw an opportunity to push for a top-four finish,” said Bridges. “Our district was by far the toughest in the state, with teams claiming four of the top five finishes at state and earning 16 of the 30 medals. So, that fourth-place finish didn’t dissuade us from chasing a final-four finish.”
Fatima made up 73 places from the first 1,000 meters to the finish line. The top five runners averaged 20:50 to their fifth-place finish.
Senior Lauren Berhorst was a girl on a mission as she abandoned her typical style of a conservative start to push into the top 15 right off the bat and finished 11th in 19:23 to earn her third straight all-state medal.
“Lauren ran an amazing race,” said Bridges.
Berhorst was confident about how the state competition would go this year. “It’s pretty exciting because last year, I didn’t really get the time I wanted, but this year, I was like, ‘I’m going to go get his last race.’ You gotta go out with a bang.”
Berhorst added that because the team has seen success, she believed there was an opportunity to compete at state. “I think that pushed me to get up there just to help out our team a little more and get extra points,” she said.
Freshman Brie Massman came up big, knocking 43 seconds off her personal best to finish 25th in 19:45 to earn All-State in her first state championship.
“Brie is a tremendous talent and very coachable, and next season looks good,” said Bridges.
“I didn’t let the nerves get the best of me, and I got a medal to show for it,” said Massman.
Sophomore Heidi Struemph (49, 20:32) and freshman Melissa Verslues (88, 21:30) had a huge day, finishing well faster than predicted. Struemph knocked 1:12 off of her previous best, and Verslues shaved 47 seconds off her races in the last two weeks.
“Anna Rakestraw came up big for us in her first year of cross country, working her way up from JV at the beginning of the season to be our fifth runner at state,” said Bridges, noting the junior dropped 1:16 from her best time to finish 144th in 23:03.
First-year runner senior Skyla Schroeder had a great run, improving by 1:06 to earn 150th in 23:13. Junior Lily Gregory improved by 47 seconds to finish as Fatima’s seventh runner in a time of 23:37 for 156th place.
“Like the boys team, we have a lot of young talent, and I’m sure we will be ready to go again next season,” said Bridges.