(Nov. 14, 2014) Eight Stephen Decatur cross country runners battled fast athletes and a challenging course during the 3A state championship meet last Saturday at Hereford High School in Parkton.
“The competition was tough, as expected. At states, you can always expect a fast race, and that is really difficult at the Hereford course,” said Decatur Coach Jody Stigler. “The terrain is very difficult, especially for kids from the Eastern Shore.”
The Lady Seahawks qualified for the state meet after the team finished third overall out of 12 schools in the 3A South Regional championship, Oct. 30, at Oak Ridge Park in Hughesville.
The Decatur boys’ team finished sixth at regionals and failed to qualify for states.
The top 15 individual runners in the boys’ and girls’ regional races automatically advanced to states, and since Decatur senior Parker Harrington finished seventh overall, he qualified for the championship.
Harrington crossed the finish line 88th out of 178 runners participating in the state competition. He completed the race in 18:33.7.
“Parker did well. He went out a little too hard and he was in the top 20 for the first mile or so,” Stigler said. “After that, he kind of hit the wall a little bit, but still had a pretty good showing.”
The Decatur girls’ squad placed 17th at states. Senior Jenna Reimer led the Seahawks. She finished 34th out of 160 female runners (21:15.7).
Also participating in the state competition were junior Alison Alvarado (112th, 23:43.1), sophomore Peyton Dunham (118th, 24:17.8), senior Meya Chilengi (123rd, 24:25.9), sophomore Rose Billings (130th, 24:37.5), freshman Maya Knepp (145th, 25:09.7) and junior Katie Hofman (148th, 25:29.5).
“I thought the girls did pretty good. No one ran their PR, but that was expected because the course is probably the most difficult course that we have ran throughout the season,” Stigler said. “The standout performer was probably Jenna, who came in the top 35.”
Overall, Stigler thought the season went well. The Decatur boys’ squad won four out of six regular-season meets, while the girls took top honors in three. Both teams finished third during the Oct. 22 Bayside Conference championship.
“I think that we were a much better team at the end of the season than we were at the beginning of the season, so I believe that it was successful,” Stigler said.
“I feel like the season went by really quick, and it was a lot of fun,” said Reimer, who transferred to Decatur before the 2014-15 school year from North Penn High School in Pennsylvania. “The team’s great, the coaches are great and it’s just been a great year.”
While several seniors who contributed this season will graduate, a number of juniors and underclassmen will return for 2015.
“We will lose two boys and two girls from our top seven next year,” Stigler said. “Although they are some of our better runners, we have a good foundation going in to next year assuming no attrition, injuries, etc.”
Before the 2015 cross country season, Stigler said a majority of the Seahawks will be participating in the upcoming winter indoor track season.