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Seniors Katie Nelson and Caroline Mills walk with freshmen Jack Douglass and Molly Richardson after the race. Photo: Fred Assaf

The sun beats down on the runners as they anxiously await the gunshot. It’s early morning on Saturday, Nov. 8 and the Pace cross country runners filled two Pace buses to make the long trip to the state cross country course in Carrollton. Despite the fact that only 14 runners would participate in the race, the whole cross country team, composed of over 50 students, traveled to cheer on their teammates.

“The guys ran a fantastic race and gave it everything they had,” said Coach Steve Cunningham. “That’s all you can ask for as a coach.” The varsity boys ran first and earned an impressive second place in their new AA division.

Senior Mark Grenader finished fifth overall in the race with a time of 17:44, falling over the finish line and momentarily blacking out. Behind Mark were freshman Jack Douglass in sixth place, sophomore Max Irvine in 13th, sophomore Rob Warren in 14th and sophomore Parker Payne in 21st. Junior Alec Rogers and sophomore Alex Kaye were Pace’s last two runners, both with great sub-20-minute times. “Overall the season was fantastic, but the second place finish in the state meet was a little disappointing,” said sophomore Parker Payne. “Next year we will train harder and hopefully win the state championship.”

The varsity girls ran after the boys and missed the podium by one spot with a surprising fifth place finish despite their ranking as the seventh place team. Senior Katie Nelson finished first for the girls with a time of 21:58, followed by sophomore Julia Ross with 22:09, senior Caroline Mills with 22:43, senior Lacey O’Sullivan with 22:57, junior Jilly Paul with 22:59, senior Hannah Kelly with 24:09 and freshman Molly Richardson with 24:35.

Despite the girls cross country team losing many great senior runners last season, the girls broke all expectations in their new division. “Running in the state meet was a truly unforgettable experience,” said team captain Katie. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish the season, or my last year on cross country. I was so proud of how everyone ran, and it was such an exciting day for both teams.”

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