Boys, girls cross country teams place sixth, seventh at State

Seniors Pierce Flanders and Michael Knapp medaled individually in the boys race while sophomore Jaybe Shufelberger medaled for the girls team.

The+girls+cross+country+team+huddles+before+the+League+meet+at+Felker+Park+on+Oct.+15.

The girls cross country team huddles before the League meet at Felker Park on Oct. 15.

The boys and girls cross country teams team competed in the 6A State meet at Rim Rock Farm on Oct. 29. The boys finished sixth as a team and the girls team placed seventh.

Senior Pierce Flanders secured the best Washburn Rural individual finish by placing ninth. Also medaling for the boys was senior Michael Knapp who finished in 19th place. Sophomore Jaybe Shufelberger was the lone girls placer, finishing 20th individually.

Flanders said his finish was a “little disappointing” since he dropped three spots and ran 20 seconds slower than he did at last year’s State meet.

“I think if I did better our team could’ve placed higher,” Flanders said.

Once I finished I thought I had medaled, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure, so when it was official, I was so happy”

— Sophomore Jaybe Shufelberger

Yet, head coach Matt Swedlund said the team out-performed their projected finish.

“The boys team was projected to finish eighth, but I knew we were capable of doing better than that. It would have been great to be in the top five, but we came up just nine points shy and finished sixth,” Swedlund said. “I was definitely proud of the boys and the effort they put forward.”

Similary, the girls team placed higher than they were expected to. Heading into the race, they were projected to finish 10th, but behind Shufelberger’s top 20 individual finish, they placed seventh.

Shufelberger moved up 50 spots from her freshman year where she finished 70th at the 6A State race in 2015.

“Going into the race I knew I had a pretty good shot at medaling, but I was still surprised when I found out I had medaled,” Shufelberger said. “Once I finished I thought I had medaled, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure, so when it was official, I was so happy.”

I was happy with our team finishes and very proud of all my runners”

— Head coach Matt Swedlund

Yet, Shufelberger was not the only one who was celebrating after the race was over.

“I was happy with our team finishes and very proud of all my runners,” Swedlund said. “The competition at the State meet is very tough, but I knew that if we did what we were capable of, we would end up right around [sixth and seventh place for the teams].”

The future is bright for Washburn Rural cross country as the boys team only loses four seniors and the girls team returns all varsity members next year.

“We’ve got tons of potential moving forward,” Swedlund said. “I think the most important thing will be for us to stay focused and put the work in during the off-season and in track so that we come back next fall ready to capitalize on what we accomplished this year.”