The Papillion-La Vista South girls cross country team finished in third overall in the Class A state meet with help of three runners placing in the top 15 at Kearney Country Club Friday.
The Titans totaled 85 points while Lincoln East finished with 39 points to win state, as a team. The Titans used the same formula as last season by starting conservative through the first mile and ramping up the tempo each of the next-two miles.
“A lot of people get caught up in the whole getting out to fast starts in state,” junior Kaylie Crews said. “We just wanted to make sure we weren’t going out too crazy and then at the two-mile mark, we started pushing it and really going for our places.”
After winning the first place and the all-class gold medal last season, Crews finished in third place, this season, with a time of 18:37.1 to lead the Titans.
Although Crews didn’t repeat, the junior finished 5.4 seconds better than last season at state.
The junior was sitting in 12th place after the first mile and then had the sixth-best time between the first and second mile to, eventually, spring herself into the top 3 in the last mile of the race.
“This was just as good as last year. I definitely pushed myself just as much. The girls just came out with really good competition and running against everybody was really fun,” Crews said. “It’s a lot different than last year when I was finishing by myself verses this year surrounded by a lot of people. It was a great experience and I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
In her three state races, Crews has a one state title, a third-place finish and a seventh-place finish.
Olivia Rosenthal placed sixth in her second state race. The sophomore jumped seven spots from last season, including a time difference of 53.4 seconds.
She started the first mile in 10th place before putting forth the second-best time in the second mile before finishing sixth in the last leg.
“I think last year with it being my freshman year, I was really used to high school and I didn’t know what to do,” Rosenthal said. “I just wasn’t training my hardest and I think, this year, I took it a lot more seriously and just tried to push up to be with the top pack this year.”
Anna Jennings placed 11th to medal with a time of 19:14, beating her time last year by 14 seconds. In four state meets, the senior placed second, ninth and 11th to finish her Titan career.
Senior Emma Ralston finished 33rd with a time of 20:02.57 and freshman Bethany Schuhmacher placed 47th with a time of 20:18.25, while senior Emma Jones notched 63rd and sophomore Deavion Deleon tallied 92nd to round out the Papio South team.
The trio of Rosenthal, Crews and Jennings pushed each other throughout the season with each getting the better of each other at times. It was a healthy competition for the three throughout the year.
“Having Olivia and Anna there to push me is definitely something I can attribute it to,” Crews said. “Just being able to push myself and get faster throughout the year.”
Along with Jennings, seniors Ralston and Jones have have done their part, at different times in their careers, to help the Titans finish in third place the past-three seasons at state and have helped guide younger Titan runners that have entered the program.
“There’s been a lot of talk this past few days about our seniors leaving,” Crews said. “Just knowing they’ve been their for us when I was a freshman and Olivia was a freshman. It just means a lot.”
It’s a selfless culture the Titans have instilled. Crews said healthy competition has pushed this group from the top to the bottom of the pecking order.
“For our team, we’re definitely based off of healthy competition and everybody is running with each other at practice to push each other. When it comes to race day, we are trying to beat each other, but it’s just so the other person will run with us and push us.
“I think, everybody understands that they’ve played an important role on the team. No matter if you’re the first runner or the last runner,” Crews said. “I think, everybody is held accountable making sure we are working hard.”
• Gretna’s Regan Ehlert and Kayla Adams finished 35th and 56th, respectively. The sophomore finished with a time of 20:05.4 and the senior totaled a time of 20:37.4, respectively, for the Dragons.