WELLSVILLE — Having four runners finish in the top seven was more than enough for Ridgeline to accomplish something it never had before in cross county.
The Riverhawk girls brought home the Cache-Box traveling trophy after their performance Wednesday afternoon on the 5K course at the American West Heritage Center. Despite all their success, the Ridgeline girls had never won this meet.
“We have some happy girls,” Ridgeline head coach Mary Kirby said. “... They ran awesome. They were smart runners. They are running well.”
With runners placing third (Madison Patrick), fifth (Alexis Patrick), sixth (Brynlee Brown), seventh (Mackenzie Duncan) and 16th (Madelyn Busch), the Riverhawks scored 37 points, easily winning the meet. Preston was second with 70 points.
“It was excellent by the team today,” Madison Patrick said. “... Usually we don’t pack run, but today something kicked in and stuck together. Lexi (Patrick) and Mackenzie (Duncan) were right behind me the whole time. Brynlee (Brown) made up loads of ground. We’ve been training a lot of intervals at the same time, so that forces us to pack. That has helped a lot. And we want to be competitive at state this year. We would love a state championship this year. Everybody wants it.”
Rounding out the eight-school field was Sky View (86), Mountain Crest (111), Green Canyon (122), Bear River (133), Box Elder (157) and Logan (225).
“We have three freshmen, so this is only their fourth race,” Preston head coach Tyler Jones. “So they are starting to figure it out. They are much improved. Our pack is really good.”
Preston was without arguably its best runner in Andie Bell, who also plays soccer in the fall. Bell was fourth at state individually last season.
While the Riverhawks were enjoying the team title, the top two individuals came from Bear River and Sky View. Senior Madison White ran away from the field in a scorching time of 18 minutes, 59 seconds.
“I don’t think I’ve ever broke 20 (minutes) on this course, which is surprising because I have multiple times (on other courses),” White said. “I would have loved to run under 19. I’m not sure I did that.”
Yes, the senior did.
Bobcat Kate Dickson tried to bridge up to White, but like the Bear harrier ran most of the race by herself, clocking in at 19:22 — 45 seconds faster than the athlete who placed third.
“I was just trying to go hard,” Dickson said. “I tried to stay close (to White), but just wanted to run my hardest. I hope to improve more by region.”
Madison Patrick was third in 20:07. The rest of the top 10 were Green Canyon’s Katie Latvakoski (20:12), Ridgeline’s Alexis Patrick (20:20), Brown (20:21) and Duncan (20:24), Sky View’s Kaylee Grigg (20:24) and Olivia Dickson (20:25), and Preston’s Mckinley Scott (20:28).
“The girls were better than they have been the whole year,” Kirby said. “A few of them dared to take risks today and it paid off. I was ecstatic they were willing to do that. ... They learned to run pace last year and it has helped them so much this year.”
The strategy by White Wednesday was pretty simple.
“You probably saw it, it was to stay ahead of everyone and run fast,” White said. “... I race better when I know my competition is behind me. The whole time I imagined she (Dickson) was a couple of paces behind me and that kept me going.”
From the starting gun, White jumped to the front and quickly built a gap on the rest of the field. Latvakoski, Madison Patrick and Dickson were in front of the pack. At the halfway point, Dickson had moved into second and created a gap. She kept White in her sights, but could never catch up to her.
For the Riverhawk runners, they focused on not letting any other runners get by them.
“Madi (White) took off from the start and did not burn out at all, she ran a fast time,” Madison Patrick said. “Everybody has a different way they like to run. Madi is a front runner. Kate (Dickson) likes to follow and come from behind; she’s like a little ninja. ... Today my strategy was to finish.”