The Chadron High girls’ cross country team won’t be at full strength for the Class C-4 District Meet at Ogallala on Thursday, but because of its exceptional depth, the Lady Cardinals are expected to be in the running to win their second straight district title.
Last year, the Lady Cards’ captured the school’s first team title at a district cross country meet and went on to finish fourth at the state meet. This year’s team has had another exceptional season, winning its first five meets before coming in third at the Western Conference Meet after one of its top runners, Emma Murdock, could not compete because of a knee injury she sustained in a physical education class.
Coach Willie Uhing said while Murdock, who had been the team’s No. 3 or 4 runner most of season, won’t be available for the Thursday’s district race, the good news is that she won’t need surgery and should be at full speed again next season.
A year ago, Chadron won the district title with 28 points while Mitchell was second with 42 and Chase County third with 60. The top three teams and top 15 individuals at each of the district meets qualify for the state meet, which, as always will be in Kearney. This year’s date is Oct. 23.
Last year, Mackenzie Anderson led the Cards to victory while becoming the first Chadron High girl to win a district championship. The others whose points made up the team total were Makinley and Macaiah Fuller, who were seventh and eighth, and Leila Tewahade, who was 17th.
Tewahade has experienced arch problems this season and hasn’t run full-time, but freshman Grace Pyle has led the Cards to new heights and junior Aliyah Mills also has come on strong and placed among the four scorers to help take up the slack.
After a slow start, Anderson has improved, giving the Cardinals more hope for another strong season finish.
Both the Cardinals and Ogallala tallied 39 points to lead the way at the Indians’ invitational meet on Sept. 24. But Ogallala did not enter a fifth runner in the varsity race and Anderson’s 20th gave the Red Birds the title with no questions asked.
“Beating Ogallala again will be a tall challenge because Coach (Shane) Fruit always has his runners at their best for districts and state,” Uhing said. “But the Lady Cardinals’ ‘Soul Harvesters’ are aware of this fact and will be ready.”
Ogallala senior Miah Hoppens was first and freshman Lindee Henning was third at their home meet. Chadron was paced by Pyle and Makinley Fuller, who were fifth and sixth. Witte was 10th and Mills 19th to give the Cards their 39 points after the placing by a lone runner from Paxton was ignored.
Uhing added that Sidney also will challenge for one of the top three girls’ team placings.
Just one point kept the Chadron boys from qualifying for state as a team last season. Sidney won the championship with 24 points, followed by Mitchell with 50 and Broken Bow with 73. The Cardinals had 74 points.
That’s also what Chadron totaled at the Ogallala Meet this fall, when Sidney was the boys’ winner with 40, Gothenburg was second with 47 and Broken Bow third at 58. Each of those teams will be competing Thursday. Uhing said the Cardinals have a chance to nab one of the top three places, but said they’ll all have to run their best to make it happen.
Two Cards, Nathan Burch and Carter Ryan, earned tickets to represent Chadron at state last year by placing 10th and 13th, respectively, at the district meet. Ryan has been the first Cardinal to place at each of the six meets this fall. Burch will be seeking his fourth straight trip to Kearney, and Uhing said Gavin Sloan also has a good chance of qualifying individually if that becomes necessary.
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