Maranatha girls, boys earn 2A state berths
Take them out of their area and it still doesn’t matter. The 2011 Maranatha Academy cross country program is all about winning — anywhere.
At the Class 2A regional championships Saturday in Mound City — far away from the comforts of the home course in Johnson County — the Maranatha Eagles proved they were ready to race anywhere. The Eagle girls earned the team regional championship while the Maranatha boys snagged second place. With those two sterling finishes, both squads advanced to the Class 2A state championships Saturday, Oct. 29, at Wamego Country Club in Wamego.
For the Eagles, the 90-minute trip west to Mound City proved to be no hindrance at all, especially for the girls.
The Eagles followed up their Crossroads Conference championship of two weeks ago with another championship performance. Freshmen Hope Manning and Lauren Harrell earned first and second place, respectively, in the 44-runner field. Manning came in with a blazing time of 16 minutes, 9 seconds, in the 4K race while Harrell followed with a mark of 16:22.
Senior Courtney Brownlee took 11th with a time of 18:12 while freshman Taylor Morrow came in right after at 12th with a mark of 18:25. Sophomore Christa Johnson also finished in the top half of the field with her 17th-place time of 19:02.
Maranatha coach Bianca Williams, as she has done all season, lauded the performance of her girls.
“Laura and Hope really feed off each other,” Williams said, “and we have a bunch of seniors who have served as role models and calmed the nerves of our younger kids. They’ve said, ‘If you can’t have fun with this, something’s wrong.’ I really expect the team to do well at state.”
On the boys’ side, Williams has witnessed a team that struggled early on begin to find a penchant for pack running. That, in turn, has led to runners in the pack pushing each other for higher finishes. One result of that was a Crossroads Conference championship. The next one was the Eagles’ second-place finish at regionals and their subsequent berth at state.
Just four points separated Maranatha from first-place Berean Academy which finished with 40. The Eagles earned second with 44 points while Kansas City Christian gained the remaining state berth with 49. All seven of Maranatha’s runners finished in the top 20.
Senior Luke Miller was Maranatha’s top finisher in the 5K race at sixth with a mark of 18:04 while fellow senior Zech Johnson took 10th in a field of more than 50 runners at a time of 18:26. Freshman Aaron Crews earned 11th with a time of 18:30 while senior Caleb Hartig finished 12th with a mark of 18:31. Senior Ian Bower was 14th and clocked in at a time of 18:42, while senior Spencer Haven earned 16th at 18:53. Junior Nick Hoduski posted a 17th-place time of 19:09.
“The boys really are peaking at the right time,” Williams said. “We’ve had some very nice chemistry with this team. We’ve really challenged them to expect nice things of themselves and they’ve rallied together. The boys have really run in a pack. All of our top five guys came in just a few seconds off each other.”
With the regional championship now in hand for the girls and berths at state secured for both teams, the Eagles can now use the final week of practice to iron out the final wrinkles before heading to Wamego.
“We’ve been training even through regionals,” Williams said. “This week we’ll taper, cut down on mileage, and have shorter practices. We’re going to let their legs rest a little bit.”