Top 15 was doable, too, even though everyone online had us projected to finish 18th. As a matter of fact, I thought, our 21:11 average from region day would have us cracking the state top 10, but it'd take a repeat of multiple-PRs on a non-PR course in a nutty crowd of girls all as good as us to do it. Not realistic. But if I sold the girls on shooting for a top 10 spot, we might be able to get in that top 15 area. Even better, let's go after Male, who I'm sure after getting by us at Regions was looking for a top 10 spot as well. (As it turned out, they showed up in shirts printed to say just that).
State races have a way of looking a lot worse than they are. I'm quite sure they feel that way as well. Typically, runners seriously underperform there. And after a good start by our leaders, things just turned into a pretty miserable-looking blur of elbows and ponytails. Lots of turns, girls packed everywhere, especially between the 21:00-22:00 5K pace, no room to move. Just as I warned them, if you weren't running agressive enough to pass, you'll be getting passed. The. Whole. Race.
Dani looked every bit the state veteran, fantastic from start to finish, and Jessie and Kelsey really turned it on the second half of the race. As if part of a plan (I can certainly take no credit for it), their patience through a rough first mile rewarded them with awesome second two miles, and season PRs. Crazy, considering the circumstances. They just ran remarkably great, ridiculous races. Kayla, Morgan, Shelby, and Bree worked their tails off to keep spots, and later picked off many runners by sheer will in the last 800.
Still, after the race I wasn't sure how we did, especially since I was greeted at the finish with more tears than smiles from the girls. It's really hard to estimate team performance at state, unless you're just freaky good, which we aren't. How would we stack up against all these great teams, or even just the other good teams? I knew our goal of top 10 looked every bit like the pipe dream I'd thought it'd be, but I was praying that top 15 might still happen. MAYbe.
Turns out it did, and much more. When I worked my way through the crowd at the results board, I was a little surprised I didn't see our name on the last page, which started with the 13th place team. Huh? Where are...11th. Am I seeing this right? 11th?! Like right-after-top-10-type-11th? I was elated. The top ten teams in the state, proving it in front of everyone on state championship day, with 30+ of the state's best teams represented on the line, and we're 11th. Not only did we crush that 18th-place-finish projection, we beat a lot of teams that had beaten us earlier in the season, including Male. A lot of really good teams. I ran back and told the girls to screams of relief and joy.
I've looked the results over probably a thousand times today, as if I'm trying to figure how it could have happened. But I'm not really. I just really like looking at them. Especially the team scores. I look at the top teams, the ten ahead of us, and some of these are really the elite programs in our state in my opinion. And there we are, right behind them. Maybe not among them, but right there. It's a good feeling.
It's a good team. Thanks, girls.