It’s hard to imagine a team having a better season than the middle school girls cross country runners. The team placed first in all five meets it entered this fall. Coach John Berry says lots of factors contributed to their success.
“I think one, they like to run. Two, they’re very competitive,” says Berry. “And three, most of these girls have run over the summer as well. They just are a very competitive group. They ran together as a group very well.”
Three of the five meets combined runners from 7th and 8th grade, and Republic won all three of those. In the two meets where 7th graders competed separately, the younger runners were even more dominant.
“At Nixa and COC, they have separate divisions for 7th grade girls. The first meet (at Nixa) we went 1-2-3-4-7,” says Berry. “In the COC, Emma Lucas went down and she’s one of our leading runners. We still went 1-2-5-8-24, and still won by 20 points.”
Berry says he expected the team to be successful before the year began, but…
“Nothing to this extent. They surprised me,” he says. “The neat thing is, when someone went down, somebody else stepped up. In Willard, our leading 8th grade runner was Madison Appleberry, and she hit a spot where she got crowded out, but we had two other runners step up and finish 1-2. This is a very special group.”
Berry also credits a new assistant, Katherine Fitzwater, with helping the team improve in key areas. “She has worked with them on pacing and getting themselves physically ready,” Berry says.
Here are members of the team:
8th grade: Madison Appleberry, Allyson Barrett, Tori Bishop, Moria Blansit, Taylor Fergen, Katie Hamilton, Abbey Loveland, Ally McAtee, Sydney Phillips, Macie Thornhill
7th grade: Megan Branstetter, Lauren Burks, Taytum Carter, Payton Coskey, McKae Geromini, Maddie Kendrick, Hannah Laborde, Lara Laborde, Emma Lucas, Brylee, Manes, Morgan McGuire, Destinee Tyk