The Dutchgirls are running all the way to state.
Owensville had five runners finish in the top 15 to win the Class 3 District 2 championship Saturday at the Linn Athletic Complex with a score of 36. Five other girls from the area qualified individually for next Saturday’s state meet at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.
Lutheran South was the other team from the district to advance, finishing second with a score of 62. The Lady Lancers had the top individual runner at the meet, Riley Schelp, who posted a time of 20:00.68. They had three runners in the top 10.
Pacific’s girls ran third with 89 points. Sullivan was fourth with 96 points, followed by St. Clair in fifth with 115, Borgia sixth with 135 points and Affton seventh at 147.
Sophia Ashner was the top Owensville runner, coming in second at 20:15.68. Paige Heckelmann ran fifth (20:58.99), Kendra Hults seventh (21:18.04), Alesha Shockley eighth (21:21.59) and Katherine Candrl 15th (22:14.65).
Other area runners in the top 15 included Sullivan’s Maggie Jones (6th, 21:08.28), Pacific’s Faith Gerling (11th, 21:50.83) and Sarah Aehle (12th, 21:54.68), Borgia’s Gretchen Overman (13th, 22:06.76) and St. Clair’s Arin Halmich (14th, 22:10.01).
Gerling and Aehle each qualified for the state meet in 2016 as well, where Gerling ran 87th and Aehle 99th. Gerling ran at the state level in 2015 also.
“Faith and Sarah ran much of the race together,” Pacific Head Coach Justin Perriguey said. “They pushed themselves to a much faster last mile than they probably would have alone. Faith ran a season best at the meet. She has always run well at Linn. Faith is an awesome competitor in high pressure situations. Sarah ran a great second half of the race. She and Faith both improved their position throughout the race.”
While the Lady Indians would have needed to trim 20-plus points to qualify as a team, they did come very close to having a third member qualify for the state meet.
Hailey Mann finished 16th at 22:20.32. It was a new personal best time for her, but six seconds behind Candrl for the final spot.
“Our girls knew that it would be an uphill battle with all of the injuries that were sustained this year,” Perriguey said. “In a different world without injuries, we like to think we could have been in there.”
Riley O’Neill (29th, 23:52.43) and Cori O’Neill (35th, 24:28.87) completed the Pacific scoring.
Jones, Overman and Halmich were three of four freshmen to qualify for state from the district. The fourth was Macy Schelp, who was third for Lutheran South.
“Arin ran an outstanding race for a freshman,” St. Clair Head Coach Ben Martin said. “She (set a personal record). She got out where she needed to be almost immediately and then just held on. I was so proud of the way she ran. She has proven to be able to fight through the pain of the last mile.”
St. Clair also got scores from Oliva Pratt (27th, 23:44.20), Alyssa McCormick (28th, 23:48.54), Elexis Wohlgemuth (31st, 24:10.84) and Chloe Merseal (37th, 24:48.69). Erin York (38th, 24:54.86) and Alana Hinson (47th, 25:37.99) were the Lady Bulldogs’ sixth and seventh runners.
While the Lady Knights did not defend their district title from a year ago, they will send one runner through.
“Congratulations to (Gretchen) Overman on qualifying for state as a freshman,” Borgia Head Coach Mitch Figas said. “We have had some pretty big names roll through here recently and a few of them did not qualify their freshman year. Grace has really improved her racing strategy from the start of the season and it paid off for her on Saturday. She has the potential to run a time in the low 21s and that will put her right in the middle of the pack.”
Borgia’s other four runners were Megan Spaunhorst (23rd, 23:17.13), Abby Matt (24:13.04), Ainsley Virtudazo (43rd, 25:23.84) and Alexa Weber (46th, 25:34.14).
“(I) was really proud of the way our seniors, Abby Matt and Megan Spaunhorst, finished up their careers,” Figas said. “Both ran very strong races and really hung in there. Megan ran her fastest time of the year, something not a whole lot of people did on Saturday. Abby bounced back from some really tough outings earlier this year and came through with a nice race when it counted. Alexa Weber and Ainsley Virtudazo have been nursing some injuries but rounded out our strong performances.”
Union had just two runners in the race, Meghan Bergner (20th, 23:08.78) and Addison Kriete (50th, 26:12.71).
Bayless, Cuba and DuBourg each had three runners.