Many teams set goals in the preseason to win their leagues and then make it to state. For the Skyline Lady Thunderbirds crosscountry squad, it is mission accomplished.
A week after securing the HOPL team title, the Lady T-Birds nipped the host Meade Buffalos by one point for third place in Saturday’s regional, thus punching their ticket to Wamego next weekend. Joining the girls on the big stage will be Roman Ibarra, who qualified as an individual by taking 7th (18:38) in the boys race.
Berean Academy scored 31 points to win the girls regional, followed by Stanton County with 47. The real drama came in the battle for third. When the dust settled, it was Skyline who had prevailed over Meade, 77-78.
Whenever a crosscountry race is decided by one point, everything that happened was important to the outcome, of course. But in this particular case, several things stand out that allowed Skyline to nip the Buffalos.
First of all, Brooke Fisher is beginning to return to form after an injury had kept her sidelined for most of the season. She captured 6th place (17:41) which set the tone for the T-Birds. Secondly, Allison Sanders had her best relative finish of the season. Her 15th place (18:41) represented one of her best efforts this year.
The other Skyline scorers packed up well. Megan Pyles (20th 19:17), Katelyn Kumberg (22nd 19:40) and Madison Moore (23rd 19:50) turned in solid races that were instrumental in putting Skyline in the hunt for a state berth.
Still, Skyline would not have edged Meade except for the performance of their pushers. In crosscountry, pushers do not score, but they can add points to the other teams by finishing ahead of their scorers.
That is exactly what Patty Ibarra (24th 19:55) and Abby Giles (31st 21:26) did. Counting only each team’s first four runners, Meade was ahead. But by finishing ahead of Meade’s 5th scorer, Ibarra and Giles added enough points to her score that Skyline was able to slip into the 3rd spot.
Skyline head coach Lynette Freeman said, “All the girls passed someone from Meade in the last half mile, so they all had a huge part in the team getting to go to state.”
Roman Ibarra had to be taken to the hospital following his state qualifying effort, but is reportedly recovering nicely. Freeman remarked that Ibarra, who has been doing double duty as a runner and a football player this year, may simply have overdone it with a race on the day after a football game.
Freeman said, “I think Roman is going to take it easy from football this week so he will be ready to go at Wamego.”
Skyline does not have enough boys to qualify as a full team, but three T-Birds other than the state-bound Ibarra ran at regional as well. After competing as JV for the majority of the season, Lucas Cason (38th 21:28), Khaleb Cason (47th 23:31) and Colin Kumberg (53rd 30:01) ran their final races of the year as varsity competitors.
Page 2 of 2 - Coach Freeman was pleased with the Thunderbirds efforts. “Regionals was a huge success for us. We get to take the full girls team and Roman to state. We are really looking forward to it.”