District Champions!

Will Johnson

LINN — Same course, similar weather, same results.

Looking to end a 14-year district title drought in girl’s cross country, Matt Candrl’s Owensville High School Dutchgirl harriers hit the course first in the MSHSAA Class 3, District 2 cross country meet Saturday morning at the Osage County Fairgrounds in Linn.

Seeing their top five runners earn All-District accolades with top-15 finishes, Candrl’s Dutchgirls qualified for the MSHSAA Cross Country Championships Saturday in Jefferson City as a team for the second time in as many years.

“It’s hard to beat any team when all of your top-five runners earn All-District honors,” Coach Candrl said. “The girls did an awesome job of preparing for the race.”

Led by two-time Four Rivers Conference individual champion Sophia Ashner (20:15.68), the Dutchgirl sophomore settled for second place in the district meet Saturday at Linn behind Lutheran South senior Riley Schelp.

“I was trying to stay with the girl in front but she was really good today,” Ashner said. “It’s really exciting that I’ll get to run with my team again at state.”

Rounding out the top five was fellow Dutchgirl sophomore Paige Heckelmann with a fifth-place time of 20:58.99.

“It feels so awesome,” Heckelmann said. “I’m so happy that we’ve worked as a team all season. Working together got us a district championship and another race together at state.”

Twenty seconds behind Heckelmann was fellow OHS sophomore Kendra Hults taking seventh in 21:18.04.

“It’s a really good feeling that we actually won a district title,” Hults said. “We’re realizing how good we are and we have a whole lot left in us.”

Rounding out the Dutchgirl sophomore quartet was Alesha Shockley’s eighth-place time of 21:21.59.

“At first, it wasn’t that bad out there,” Shockley said. “However towards the end, I couldn’t hardly feel anything causing me to trip over the finish line.”

Passing Pacific’s Hailey Mann in the closing moments of the race, Dutchgirl freshman Katie Candrl grabbed the 15th and final medal earning All-District honors with a time of 22:14.65.

“It was really good to cross the finish line in 15th,” Katie Candrl said. “I was scared I wasn’t going to get it. I just pushed through and passed her at the end.”

For a pair of Dutchgirl seniors, they will get to end their high school careers at the state meet in Jefferson City.

Fresh off the Future Farmers of America (FFA) National convention in Indianapolis, Ind., Adriene Aubuchon posted a 19th-place time of 22:46.22.

“It’s been a total rush,” Aubuchon said. “We’ve all put a lot of hard work in throughout the season and I’m glad to see it pay off.”

Rounding out the Dutchgirl cross country contingency, fellow senior Zoie Bertagnolli finished with a 36th-place time of 24:29.41.

“It feels like such an accomplishment even though it’s been 14 years (since Owensville’s last district title),” Bertagnolli said.

Looking to join their Dutchgirl counterparts, Candrl’s varsity Dutchmen looked for a strong showing in the cold weather at Linn.

In spite of all seven OHS runners finishing within 90 seconds of each other, senior Jacob Giedinghagen was the lone Dutchmen to qualify for Saturday’s state meet.

Placing sixth in a time of 17:53.03, the OHS senior will join several other FRC and area runners in the Class 3 boys race.

“We just weren’t in the right mind frame Saturday for racing,” Giedinghagen said. “I’m excited that I get to finish my high school career at state.”

Also helping the Dutchmen place third at districts as a team was Graham Dunlap (16th, 18:09.52), Dane Thompson (20th, 18:37.39), Michael Lahmeyer (21st, 18:40.34), Austin Terry (26th, 19:02.67), Brannon Brocato (32nd, 19:13.91 and Bryan Candrl (33rd, 19:22.31).

“Our boys performed similar to what they had done the last couple weeks,” coach Candrl said. “Unfortunately, that’s not what it took today. It was clear early in the race that Borgia and Pacific both wanted to win this thing.”