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Repeat Repeat: Girls Cross Country Wins Back to Back State Titles for Second Time

As the 2017 cross country season progressed, the similarities between the 2012 and 2017 Lady Raptors cross country teams became more noticeable. Both were trying to defend state championships without key runners from the previous year's team. Both were ignored by the prognosticators, deemed to be pretenders, not contenders, as the state championship meet loomed. Both were led by seniors seeking the ultimate happy ending to their high school careers. And both proved to be resilient teams that would not be denied in the biggest race of the year.

At the 1.5 mile mark, it appeared as though Ravenwood might have to settle for third . Annika Sleenhof, Jamie Blaylock, and Alex Rosen were all running strong in the top twenty, but the gap between them and Olivia Derr, Msgana Araya, Carson Everman, and Elise Strevell seemed wider than the ocean. Both Dobyns Bennett and Houston had six runners before Ravenwood's four. Coach Mueller, suffering from a respiratory infection exacerbated by his propensity to talk too much, croaked at Olivia that she needed to pass 50 runners and she needed to do it sooner rather than later. Olivia, ever the cerebral racer, responded as she always does - by going on a rampage over the second half of the race, leaving winded runners in her wake. Msgana rode shotgun with her, and ultimately, Ravenwood had five in before Dobyns Bennett's four and Houston's five. Coupled with the dominance up front - Annika, Jamie, and Alex all got on the podium with All State finishes - and the Lady Raptors had a 30 point victory over runners up Houston. In a race this big and competitive, it's hard to know who's winning while you're running; sixth runner Carson passed a half dozen competitors with a blistering finish, ensuring that if the meet ended in a tie, it would break Ravenwood's way.

After the race, Coach Mueller sought out each girl, thanking her for her commitment, bravery, and performance, before running off to cheer for the boys. When the results were posted, the girls shed tears of joy, locking arms and jumping up and down together. Only they knew how hard they had been working, how much they had overcome, and how much they meant to each other. They had run a perfect team race, providing the happy ending to another amazing cross country season.