The Kingsville Lady Tigers cross country team competed at the Class 1 State Cross Country Championships held at Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia last Saturday, November 7.
The Lady Tigers team of senior Lauren Heick, sophomores Ella Ratajczyk, Talitha Hart, and Madison Morgan; and freshman Laci Collens placed 13th on the day as the group came off of a second-place district finish the week before.
“I was happy that the girls came out today, and ran a great race,” said Kingsville cross country head coach Lee Smith. “I’m super excited. It’s the second time a Kingsville girls team has qualified for state.
“We came out and had a pretty good race today, especially for it being abnormally warm as it is for this time in November.
“Most of my girls like to run in the cold as opposed to this. This was a little bit of a challenge today, but they still ran a great race, worked hard and had a great season,” highlighted coach Smith.
Freshman and all-district runner Laci Collens paced the Lady Tigers team with a 57th-place state finish in the field of 164 finishers. Collens turned in a time of 24:01.4.
“Laci, our freshman, this is her first year coming to state. She placed seventh last week, so it was great for her to experience this race at a high level,” said coach Smith.
Making her second appearance at the state meet, Talitha Hart clocked a time of 25:50.1 to finish in 116th place. Hart fought back from an off-season knee surgery as she made her return trip to the state meet.
“It was Talitha’s second time. She had a great race today for coming back again,” said coach Smith. “I know she’s been battling a little bit, just you know, everyone’s hurting this time of year, so they fought through it. It was great to see her back.”
Four-year Lady Tiger cross country team member, and three-time state qualifier Lauren Heick placed 139th with a time of 27:16.8.
“I didn’t make it last year. It felt good,” said Heick of finishing her high school cross country career with her team at the state meet.
“She’s been here three of the four years,” highlighted coach Smith of Heick qualifying for and running at the state meet to close out her career.
First-year runner Ella Ratajczyk placed 99th on Saturday with a time of 25:19.9.
Sophomore Madison Morgan rounded out the Lady Tigers team performance at this year’s state meet with a 157th-place finish in a time of 30:12.4.
Morgan and Ratajczyk drew praise from coach Smith as the team will look to replace Heick next season.
“With Ella and Madison coming out for their first year running, I was pretty happy to see where they ended up,” said coach Smith. “We only graduate one senior, so if we can replace one more, we’ll be back here running next year, I feel like.”