(Nov. 8, 2013) The Stephen Decatur girls’ cross country team finished fifth overall out of nine schools participating in the 3A South Regional championship, Oct. 31, at Oak Ridge Park in Hughesville and have advanced to the state championships.
“I expected the girls to do well. I knew we has a good chance to qualify as a team,” said Decatur Coach Jody Stigler. “I would have been disappointed if we didn’t qualify anyone.”
The top 15 individual finishers in the boys’ and girls’ regional races automatically qualified for states.
Sophomore Alison Alvarado crossed the finish line ninth overall (22:17.91).
“I thought I did pretty well, considering that at the last 800 meters I took a nasty fall, but all of it at the end paid off and I have never been happier of myself or of my team,” Alvarado said.
Senior Katie Collins completed the race in 22:53.06, good for 13th place.
“I was surprised with how well I did individually as well as how our team performed as a whole,” Collins said.
Alvarado and Collins both advanced to the state championships for placing 15th or better. After the race, Stigler said the Seahawks had to wait to see if the entire team would qualify, which it did.
The top five finishers from each school scored points for their respective squads. Contributing to Decatur’s fifth-place finish was Alvarado, Collins, seniors Chloe FauntLeRoy (24:10.19, 24th) and Alex Tushup (24:21.18, 26th) and junior Meya Chilengi (24:34.95, 30th).
“I feel as though we performed at our best,” FauntLeRoy said. “I tried very hard and it was definitely a team effort making it to states.”
Added Chilengi, “Considering the rocky and hilly terrain, I did really well. The course looked very intimidating and I’m proud of my effort as well as the team’s.”
Sophomore Katie Hofman (25:23.28, 38th) and senior Alex McKahan (25:41.31, 42nd) round out the Decatur squad headed to the state meet.
“We did great. The course was really hard, but we did it,” Hofman said.
“We went in with a positive attitude and intentions of doing our best. I was excited how well the team did,” McKahan said.
This is the first time since 2006 an entire Decatur cross country team has qualified for the 3A state meet, Stigler said.
The Decatur boys’ team finished in seventh placed at regionals and failed to qualify for states.
“I thought the boys had a chance. I would have liked to see a boy qualify,” Stigler said. “We didn’t come out fast. I don’t think they knew what to expect from the course.”
Senior Kevin Herbert was the first Seahawk to cross the finish line. He place 20th overall (19:04.59)
Also scoring points for Decatur was junior Jake Gaddis (19:17.83, 23rd), senior John Niedfeldt (19:32.78, 28th), freshman Cameron James (20:01.77, 41st) and senior Jacob Eisenman (20:29.02, 47th).
The 2013 state competition will take place Saturday at McDaniel College in Westminster. All seven Lady Seahawks are excited and looking forward to competing.
Alvarado said she and her teammates have worked extremely hard all season and it has paid off.
“We would have never made it this far if it wasn’t for both of our coaches who have trained us for this competition,” she said. “I love my team and I’m glad we are doing this together.”
Chilengi said it has been her goal all season to make it to states.
“I always say to my teammates that ‘even if you don’t place/win, make sure you give every course your best effort,’” she said. “‘Don’t psych yourself out and make sure you leave each meet with the satisfaction of knowing you gave it your absolute best.’”
For four of the girls, this will be their final cross country race as Decatur athletes.
“This is my fourth and last year of cross country and I couldn’t think of a better way of ending the season,” McKahan said.
“I hope we all just try our hardest and be competitors. I hope to finish my last cross country race strong and I hope everyone runs confidently,” FauntLeRoy added.