It was a beautiful day Saturday at the Steeplechase, and the results of the state meet were equally beautiful for Ravenwood cross country fans.
Coming into the meet as the slightest of underdogs, the Lady Raptors knew they had to put together a strong team race to defeat Dobyns Bennett, a squad that was virtually a mirror image of Ravenwood. The race lived up to the hype, with the Lady Raptors and the Lady Indians swapping positions and points over the 5K Steeplechase course. Initially, Ravenwood was leading, but by the mile Dobyns Bennett looked to be in control. Slightly beyond the two mile mark Ravenwood had evened things up, and over the last mile and change the Lady Raptors pulled away to claim their third state championship in the last six years.
As she has all season, Annika Sleenhof led the way, finishing runner up in 17:50. Sophomore Ella Kuban finished strong to join Annika on the All State team with a 15th place finish in 19:23. Junior Jamie Blaylock clocked a 19:33 to finish 17th and sophomore Alex Rosen was 24th in 19:46. Freshman Maeve Hanley ran 20:07, closing out the scoring for Ravenwood at 31st place. Sophomore Olivia Derr had an incredible race as Ravenwood's #6 runner; her 20:08 was not only a PR, but put her in front of Dobyns Bennett's #4. Elise Strevell's 71st place finish is misleading; considering she spent the week in the hospital, she ran exceedingly well!
Winning a state title in cross country is never just about what transpired during the race. It's about summer training, fall workouts, out of town meets, eating right, going to bed early... In other words, it's about sacrifice. Thankfully, you're never in it alone, and Ravenwood's program embodies the meaning of the word team as every girl on the roster brings something special to practice every day, contributing to the overall success that the girls have enjoyed together. The only thing harder than winning a state championship is defending it. With Ravenwood bringing back nine of its top ten runners, Coach Mueller can't wait to get started for 2017!