The Lincoln girls cross country team celebrated the school's first team athletic state title in nearly 40 years during Tuesday night's basketball games
Lincoln students and fans celebrated the high school's first team state athletic championship in nearly 40 years during Tuesday's home basketball games as the Lincoln girls cross country team was honored after the girls varsity game. The four athletes and their veteran coach, Steve Crist, were recognized at mid-court and a championship banner was hung in the gym.
Lincoln dominated last October's 1A State Meet in Wamego with all four girls placing in the top nine and sophomore Jaycee Vath winning the individual championship in a time of 19:47. Vath was the state runner-up as a freshman in 2017.
Senior Aubry Donley, one of the state's top middle distance runners during track season, placed second with a time of 20:13. Donley, who missed last season's state meet recovering from surgery, finished ninth in the class 2A race as a freshman and fifth in 2A as a sophomore.
Freshmen Raegan Stewart and Shelbie Ford placed eighth and ninth respectively, and, like teammates Donley and Vath, have set the stage for the possiblity of multiple state placings in the coming years.
Coach Steve Crist earned the Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association 1A Girls Coach of the Year following the team's successful run to the title.
"They really wanted this state championship, and they got it," Crist told the Lincoln Sentinel-Republican after the state meet. "Well deserved for four very talented and very hard working girls."
Kansas Pregame caught up with senior Aubry Donley after Tuesday's banner ceremony to get her thoughts on the championship season:
Q. What was it like to win the team state championship in cross country?
A. It was a very surreal moment. Mr. Crist kept hinting to us that we had a very good chance, but I don't think any of us let that thought sink in enough. I feel honored to have been a part of the championship team, but I would've been just as happy if we hadn't won because being with that group of girls was the best part of cross country.
Q. Cross country is thought of by many as an individual sport. What makes the team just as important in cross country as other sports?
A. I feel that cross country is a team sport because you are constantly with the people you train with. At meets, you shouldn't just be trying to better yourself, but you should be trying to better your teammates as well.
Q. Tell me about your teammates. You were the elder statesmen of the squad, so to speak. What makes your younger teammates such great competitors?
A. My teammates were all amazing! I wouldn't have wanted to be surrounded by any other girls. All of them were always supportive, and upbeat at practice and meets.
Q. You've developed into an outstanding middle distance runner in the spring track & field season. Do you enjoy track season more than cross country?
A. I do enjoy track season more than cross country. I like the middle distance runs because they are all much shorter than a 5k. I've just gotten to the point where I like to run at a fast pace for a short amount of time rather than try to run fast for a long time.
Q. What would you suggest to young athletes considering running events as part of their high school athletic career?
A. My advice to anyone considering cross country or running events in track is to understand upfront that it's going to take a lot of extra time with the extra training you should do, but understand that if you put in enough work, it'll all pay off in the end.
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