The Washington girls are on the state cross country podium again.
Two Lady Jays runners continued the team’s streak of having individual medalists in the MSHSAA Class 4 Cross Country Championships Saturday morning in Jefferson City.
Ginger Murnieks led Lee’s Summit West to a state championship in the race, finishing first individually in 18:35.78. Lee’s Summit West scored 58 points to claim the team title.
Parkway West was the state runner-up with 102 points, followed by Raymore-Peculiar with 125 and Blue Springs South at 131.
The Lady Jays had a pair of individual medalists in the ninth-place finsher, senior Claire Ayers, and the 24th-place runner, sophomore Mia Reed. Washington’s only other qualifier, sophomore Jessie Donnelly, ended her first varsity season in the top 50 in the state.
“We were very nervous about our starting boxes,” Washington Head Coach Mike Olszowka said. “We thought we were going to be down at the other end, but the boxes were numbered the opposite way this year. We were nervous, but the boxes worked out great. Claire and Mia both got excellent position early. Jessie got out and she got good position and they were able to hang there through the race. Claire just looked so strong through the race.”
With the morning fog still hanging around, Ayers powered her way into the top 10 to finish ninth in the state in 19:29.05.
“I’m pumped to just be here,” Ayers said. “It’s been a tough season, to come from last year and losing all the seniors. That was kind of devastating that we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to, but I’m happy with how things ended.”
In 15th place at the end of the first mile, Ayers established her position in the top 10 from the second mile onward.
Reed reached the podium in 24th place, crossing the finish line in 19:52.27.
“With about three-quarters of a mile to go, she was back in about 27th place and I looked at her and said to her, ‘Mia, all you have to do is relax — we’ve got fireman’s hill here and then a couple of downhills and you’re in great shape,’ ” Olszowka said. “She moved up those spots needed to get on the podium and she’s another one that when the gun goes off she’s a different person.”
Like Ayers, Reed also improved on her standing from the previous season. Ayers was the 33rd-place finisher and Reed 42nd in 2017.
“It was really nice to come back this year and for Claire and I to both medal,” Reed said. “As a team its always a fun experience and you remember it a lot more.”
Donnelly placed 50th in 20:31.25. In the final one-tenth of a mile, Donnelly raced like a seasoned pro by moving up 10 positions.
Donnelly did not go out for the cross country team as a freshman, but was a standout performer on the spring soccer team.
“She raced great,” Olszowka said. “She really did. She’s had a great first year. We have great expectations with Mia and Jessie coming back as juniors. ... Jessie goes to war. She just has that soccer spirit in her to fight every step. That’s one of those things that you hope the other kids feed off. As she gets more experienced in her racing, she’s just going to get better.”
Other top 10 runners in the race included Blue Springs’ Tessa Valdivia (19:00.46), Liberty’s Madelynn Hill (19:09.02), Marquette’s Katelynn Quade (19:16.08), Raymore-Peculiar’s Marissa Dick (19:18.35) and Miranda Dick (19:18.88), Ozark’s Alexis Barber (19:25.6), Wentzville Liberty’s Ally Kruger (19:27.96) and Jackson’s Kennedy Bauer (19:30.06).