LIBERTY — Liberty cross country is having one of its better all around seasons in recent memory.
The Blue Jays qualified their boys and girls teams for state for the first time since 2014 after a strong sectional meet on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Wildflower Cross Country Course, across from Liberty North High School.
Meanwhile, Liberty North’s girls squad, all three Liberty North boys and three individuals from Kearney all punched tickets to the state race at Gans Creek on Saturday, Nov. 9, in Columbia.
A pair of freshmen led Liberty’s girls and boys teams in the sectional races.
Ellie Maynor placed fifth in the girls race and Myles Thornburg took 13th in the boys race to pace the district champion Blue Jays squads.
Following Maynor was classmate Sutton Richardson, with sophomore Sasha Hough placing 18th, freshman Ella Lawrence finishing 21st and sophomore Brooke Yeates taking 34th.
On the boys side, Thornburg was trailed by senior Ryan Mata, who finished in 18th place. Senior Anthony Savastino placed 22nd, sophomore Samuel Cleary was 26th and senior Tyler Bolz 33rd.
“That’s a good day,” Liberty coach Jordan English said. “It’s really fun. Our girls are young and they battle and the boys are a bunch of seniors that are hungry who have been to the state meet and are looking to make a splash.”
The Eagles girls squad is headed back to the state meet and so are all three boys that competed in sectionals.
Senior Elizabeth Stinson paced the Eagles to a fourth-place sectional finish, as the veteran finished fourth overall.
“She ran a veteran race,” Liberty North coach David Chatlos said. “She knew what she needed to do on her home course. She’s been ready to go and she put it all out there.”
Complementing Stinson, Abigail Hedges placed 14th, junior Brooke Ware finished 19th, sophomore Averi Overcast was 27th and junior Kaylee Smith was 40th to round out the scoring.
“It was an exciting race,” Chatlos said. “They did what they needed to do and fought through adversity.”
Junior Sam Travis took fourth place in the boys race to qualify for his third straight state meet.
Ethan Lee, a sophomore, qualified for his second state race with his eighth-place finish and junior Justin King will make his state debut after taking 23rd at sectionals.
“It feels great especially on our home course,” Travis said. “I’m really happy with how we did. We held here against some great runners.”
Headed into sectionals, Kearney senior Tyler Pedee desired a top 10 finish.
He finished just within that threshold, taking 10th and advancing to the final race of the season.
“I felt really good,” said Pedee, the lone Kearney boy representative. “I came out hard but in the back part of the race I got to the point where I was shooting for top 10. It was amazing.”
Pedee is looking forward to his final high school race.
“I’m just going to run my race,” he said. “I know it’ll be my last high school race so I just want to show people what I can do and give it my all.”
Pedee will be joined by female teammates junior Jillian Vaughn and freshman Isabella Donze. Vaughn and Donze came across the sectional finish line in 23rd and 24th, respectively.