Ashner claims third state medal

Will Johnson
Sports Editor

JEFFERSON CITY — Get on the podium with a top-four team finish.

That was the goal Saturday morning for Matt Candrl’s Owensville Dutchgirl harriers during the 2018 Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) Cross Country Championships held at Jefferson City’s Oak Hills Golf Center.

In spite of their best efforts on a soft, muddy course affected by wet weather, Candrl’s Dutchgirls had to settle for another sixth-place finish in the Class 3 team standings.

“The meet was kind of like driving down the highway and you hit a traffic jam and you have to get somewhere quick and you get frustrated because you can’t get there.,” Coach Candrl said. “When the bottleneck came together, we got caught behind people and couldn’t get around them to make that time up.”

After the first mile, Sophia Ashner sat in 11th place while the rest of her Dutchgirl teammates were anywhere from 51st to 113th.

“Our plan was to take the first mile easy,” Dutchgirl junior Alesha Shockley said. “We did that a little too much and it was too much to recover from.”

Through the second and third miles, Ashner crept into the top 10 sitting in ninth place before passing Visitation Academy’s Isabella Boedefeld right before the finish line to post an eighth-place time of 20:14.35.

“I was a little upset with my time,” Ashner said. “But I think everyone’s time was a little slow.”

On a brighter note, Ashner also finished ahead of Helias freshman Alexa Lamb who beat her in the MSHSAA Class 3, District 5 meet the previous Saturday at the Pike County Fairgrounds.

“I didn’t realize I’d beaten her until after the end of the race,” Ashner said.

Finishing behind Ashner was fellow junior Kendra Hults in a 49th-place time of 21:36.20.

“I was a little upset with my time,” Hults said. “My goal next year is to get on the podium individually and with the team.”

Nearly 20 seconds behind her was fellow senior Alesha Shockley checking in with a 61st-place time of 21:56.07.

“I was surprised when we had 100 meters of gravel to run on in spikes,” Shockley said.

Following Shockley was arguably the surprise of the season for Dutchgirl cross country.

Starting the season as a junior varsity harrier, sophomore Mekayla Gibson took full advantage of running on the varsity squad.

She capped a successful year with a 73rd-place time of 22:12.13 after sitting in 106th place after the first mile of racing at Oak Hills.

“Coach Candrl told us not to come out too fast in the first mile,” Gibson said. “I was able to save up my energy for the second and third mile to finish where I did.”

Paige Heckelmann finished just behind Gibson with a 76th-place time of 22:16.45.

“I felt like the hills were a little bit tougher this year,” Heckelmann said.

Gaining six spots in the home stretch, Katie Candrl posted an 103rd-place time of 22:53.39.

Senior Abby Koepke ended her OHS cross country career finishing 124th at the state meet in a time of 23:18.63.

“I’m proud of what our girls did this season,” Coach Candrl said.