If you’re trailing a runner from Maize South, you might notice some scribbling on the back of their legs.
“Run for the Bird,” is what is scribbled on the calves of every runner, in honor of former coach Alan Birdsell, who died in June.
With their former coach in mind and his wife, Becky, in attendance on Saturday morning at the Southeast Invitational, the Mavericks came through with a performance Birdsell would have been proud of, sweeping both team titles. Afterward, the team presented Becky Birdsell with a framed team picture and a team shirt with Birdsell’s name featured prominently.
MSHS XC runners honored their late coach Alan Birdsell yesterday with this saying written on back of their legs. pic.twitter.com/typHPoghNH— Curt Klein (@MaizeSouthAD) September 4, 2016
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“It was pretty emotional,” Maize South senior Sierra Mortensen said. “It meant a lot to us because this season is about him and I think we need to represent him the best way we can and in every way possible.”
The most dominant performance came from the girls team, even with coach Jason Parr making the decision to pull Kassidy Johnson, who was in third place after the three-mile mark but fading fast, off the course to prevent a potential injury. The Mavericks still finished with a team score of 45 in a 14-team race and had four runners place in the top eight.
Mortensen battled with North’s Gabriela Reyna at the front of the race, ultimately finishing second and 14 seconds behind Reyna’s winning 5-kilometer time of 19 minutes, 10 seconds on the Cessna Activity Center course. After finishing closer to a minute behind Reyna last season, Mortensen’s offseason improvements have been evident in September.
“She’s in great shape and she’s got a great running frame and she uses it to the best of her ability,” Parr said. “Her strength is what helps her stay stable and strong and she just puts in the quality work that it takes.”
The freshmen pair of Kate Molitor (19:58) and Katie Wagner (19:59) each broke 20 minutes and Maddie Schepis (20:33) came through in eighth place. Mia Kossover (21:47) rounded out the team score and Parr said the performances of Schepis and Kossover were crucial, even more so when Johnson was pulled.
“They really stepped up in a big way and plugged those holes for us today,” Parr said. “That’s why we won today because of those two.”
The boys team race was a little closer, as Maize South (78 points) edged East (99) for the team title behind three top-15 finishes: Ethan Kossover (second in 16:34), Trey Rios (13th in 17:25), and Britt Magnuson (14th in 17:27).
Collegiate junior Lakelin Conrad won the individual race, pulling away from Kossover and Great Bend’s Kerby Depenbusch in the lead pack with approximately 800 meters to go. Conrad finished with a winning time of 16:28, six seconds faster than Kossover.
“There were a lot of schools here today, a lot of bigger schools, so this gives me a lot of confidence,” Conrad said. “I think I only got fifth at this meet last year, so this was pretty cool to perform well at this big of a meet.”
At Cessna Activity Center
Team scores — Maize South 78, East 99, Andover 112, Washburn Rural 122, Great Bend 130, Maize 161, North 180, Kapaun 234, Northwest 272, Hutchinson 275, Carroll 290, Eisenhower 326, Collegiate 327, Derby 331, South 394, Southeast 462, Ark City 469, Heights 500.
Individuals — 1. Conrad, Collegiate, 16:28; 2. Kossover, Maize South, 16:34; 3. Depenbusch, Great Bend, 16:39; 4. Moen, Andover, 16:57; 5. Jones, Derby, 16:57; 6. Jones, Maize, 17:12; 7. Christian, Maize, 17:18; 8. Nelson, North, 17:20; 9. Kinnane, Andover, 17:21; 10. Flanders, Rural, 17:21; 11. Knapp, Rural, 17:23; 12. Mora, Hutchinson, 17:25; 13. Rios, Maize South, 17:25; 14. Magnuson, Maize Sout, 17:27; 15. Henry, Collegiate, 17:29; 16. Thornburg, East, 17:30; 17. Clayton, East, 17:31; 18. Vasquez, Great Bend, 17:38; 19. Driskill, Campus, 17:39; 20. Vannucchi, East, 17:45.
Team scores — Maize South 45, East 76, Carroll 120, North 122, Washburn Rural 137, Northwest 154, Great Bend 187, Andover 222, Maize 244, Derby 250, Hutchinson 262, Campus 270, Eisenhower 279, South 371.
Individuals — 1. Reyna, North, 19:10; 2. Mortensen, Maize South, 19:24; 3. Razo, Great Bend, 19:50; 4. Molitor, Maize South, 19:58; 5. Wagner, Maize South, 19:59; 6. Inscho, North, 20:23; 7. Endsley, East, 20:28; 8. Schepis, Maize South, 20:33; 9. Wright, Hutchinson, 20:36; 10. Hill, East, 20:54; 11. Shufelberger, Rural, 20:55; 12. Andrews, Kapaun, 21:18; 13. Michaelis, Kapaun, 21:21; 14. Boynton, East, 21:22; 15. O’Neal, Carroll, 21:24; 16. Funk, Rural, 21:29; 17. Patterson, Northwest, 21:29; 18. Harkins, Northwest, 21:31; 19. Esfeld, Great Bend, 21:31; 20. Allenbach, Maize, 21:32.