Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
According to Fatima cross country coach Marcus Bridges, the Lady Comets get their edge by competing with one another.
“They feed off each other,” Bridges said, “so I think it bothers them more when they get beat by one of their own teammates than somebody else.”
Brianna Haller did not want to be bothered Saturday.
The freshman finished first in the Class 2 state competition by more than 30 seconds, and the Lady Comets rolled to their second straight state title at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Cross Country Championships at the Oak Hills Golf Center.
Haller was one of four Lady Comets to earn all-state recognition by finishing in the top 25. Sophomore Madison Day finished fourth, senior Riley Caminiti finished sixth, and freshman Hannah Kloeppel came in 22nd.
Caminiti agreed with her coach that the in-team competition has made Fatima more successful.
“It helps me a lot, and I know everybody else is gunning for each other,” said Caminiti, who finished in 20:28. “It’s kind of cutthroat, but then we’re also really good friends.”
She was impressed with Haller’s time of 19:36.
“She’s nuts,” Caminiti said of Haller. “She’s crazy. I was not expecting her to come in as a freshman and do that, but she did, and she’s great.”
Though it was her first time competing at state, Haller said she got the jitters out quickly.
“I was definitely nervous, just because some of the people you haven’t run with before, but after you pass the 100-meter mark, all your nerves go away,” she said.
Did she know how far ahead she was of the competition?
“I had no clue,” she said.
Bridges said Haller had improved since her 19:50 time at the Capital City Cross Country Challenge — also held at Oak Hills — on Oct. 4, and he thought she could finish in the 19:35 range.
The Fatima coach said his team was confident coming into Saturday — “maybe overly confident” — and last year’s experience at state competition helped.
“With last year’s top finish, it kind of set our expectations very high,” he said. “We obviously wanted to come in and repeat, so they kind of put that forward as their plan.”
Linn had just one girl competiting in Saturday’s competition, but she made the most of her state appearance. Sophomore Harley Nale earned all-state honors with a 17th-place finish and a time of 21:03.
Nale said she wanted to represent the Lady Wildcats well.
It was “exciting but nerve-racking, since I was the only one,” she said.
Nale, who finished 14th in Class 1 last year, had a top-20 finish in her sights headed into the day.
“I was kind of wanting that,” she said.
Blair Oaks, a district foe of Fatima and Linn, came up short of finishing the day in the top four and winning a team trophy by 14 points.
The Lady Falcons, paced by Kasey Kerperin’s 28th-place time of 21:13, came in fifth with 148 points. Taylor Scott finished 36th with a time of 21:47, and Kristi Wortmann finished 38th in 21:48. Nicole Grefrath finished 47th, and Rachel Isenberg finished 61st.
Fatima’s first-place total of 52 points was followed by Herculaneum with 95. Whitfield scored 132, and Bowling Green had 134 points.
Class 2 Girls Cross Country
- 1. Fatima, 52; 2. Herculaneum, 95; 3. Whitfield, 132; 4. Bowling Green, 134; 5. Blair Oaks, 148; 6. Holden, 159; 7. Stockton, 174; 8. Springfield Catholic, 177; 9. Valley Park, 229; 10. Arcadia Valley, 234; 11. Ava, 244; 12. Alton, 290; 13. Lawson, 298; 14. Lathrop, 339; 15. Blue Eye, 362; 16. Mark Twain, 415.
Top 25 Individuals (All-State)
- 1. Brianna Haller, Fatima, 19:35.68; 2. Alice Evans, Holden, 20:08.19; 3. Allison Porter, Warsaw, 20:17.56; 4. Madison Day, Fatima, 20:22.82; 5. Danielle Prince, Herculaneum, 20:25.35; 6. Riley Caminiti, Fatima, 20:27.82; 7. Ana Gil-Diaz, Herculaneum, 20:31.43; 8. Mara Teer, Valley Park, 20:44.22; 9. Lexi McNiel, Plato, 20:47.82; 10. Bailey Ray, Ava, 20:48.02; 11. Sarah Usher, Steelville, 20:51.19; 12. Anna Thomas, Arcadia Valley, 20:51.58; 13. Alex Curtin, Whitfield, 20:53.10; 14. Anna Galligos, SpringfieldCatholic, 20:54.47; 15. Zoe Hamber, Lutheran North, 20:55.29.
- 16. Hannah Grote, Bowling Green, 21:00.40; 17. Harley Nale, Linn, 21:02.64; 18. Renae Buschling, Clark County, 21:03.49; 19. Tori Glover, Holden, 21:03.83; 20. Tessa Durnell, El Dorado Springs, 21:05.77; 21. Hannah Surmon, Whitfield, 21:10.82; 22. Hannah Kloeppel, Fatima, 21:12.59; 23. Haley Damkroger, Herculaneum, 21:14.94; 24. McKenzi Maples, Strafford, 21:20.37; 25. Kelsey Finley, Bowling Green, 21:27.76.
Blair Oaks Individuals
- 28. Kasey Kerperin, 21:30.77; 36. Taylor Scott, 21:47.32; 38. Kristi Wortmann, 21:47.58; 47. Nicole Grefrath, 22:09.37; 61. Rachel Isenberg, 22:26.53; 127. Sarah Wolken, 24:07.99; 146. Shaley Eichholz, 24:54.93.
- 117. Katie Imhoff, 23:48.87.
Other Fatima Individuals
- 39. Katie Fechtel, 21:50.10; 63. Anna Massman, 22:27.22; 122. Samantha Even, 23:59.00.