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The Monroe City Cross Country Boys’ team is State Bound. The Panthers traveled to Bowling Green to compete in the Class 2 District 3 competition on October 31. Head Coach Laura Mulvaney stated, “This was the first plaque that our boys’ team has brought home, and it was well-earned. They have been building toward making themselves into a pretty formidable group, continuously challenging themselves to improve and do better than they did the last meet.”

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The District meet was well attended, as fans and family members attended to cheer on their home team. Coach Mulvaney shared about the sport, stating, “Cross country is different from other sports. Everyone celebrates each other’s successes, and is upset with everyone’s moments of frustration and tears. You cheer on every runner on the course, whether they wear black and gold or not, because they all have worked hard for this moment.”

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The girls’ team placed third overall, missing their advancement to the State Meet by one point. The boys’ team placed second overall, earning a spot to advance to the State Meet. Individual state qualifiers are Emmalee Williams, placing third; Ella Hays, placing fifth; Lauren Smith, placing ninth; Kabott Harlan, placing fourth; Logan Lucas, placing sixth; Kaleb Griffin, placing ninth; and Jackson Wheeler, placing fifteenth.

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This year’s season included four seniors.

Senior Kaleb Griffin ran the district race in 18 minutes 51.50 seconds, placing ninth. Coach Mulvaney commented, “Kaleb has seen a lot of success in the 2 years that he has been a part of the program. He has been consistently improving throughout the season, and earned his fastest time ever at Districts, so he’s starting to peak at just the right time, which will hopefully lead to good things for State.”

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Senior Logan Lucas ran the district race in 18 minutes 15.8 seconds, placing sixth. Coach Mulvaney shared, “This is Logan’s first year going out for cross country. I tried to talk him into it last year, but he was a bit apprehensive about the early morning practices. However, he’s taken to the sport like a fish to water. He’s really started to show how good of a runner he can be, placing 6th in the District his first year.”

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Senior Lauren Smith ran the district race in 22 minutes 41.1 seconds, placing ninth. Coach Mulvaney stated, “Out of everyone on the team, Lauren has probably had the most improvement in the last two years, and has turned into a formidable runner on the course. Last year she had a little bit of a medical scare at a meet, and I wasn’t sure if she would ever come back; but when she came back, she became a force to be reckoned with, and barely missed a bid to state last year. This year, she earned her spot on the State team.”

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Senior Hannah Wheeler ran the district race in 24 minutes 31.7 seconds, placing twenty-third. Coach Mulvaney shared, “Being an All-State track athlete, Jo knew the work that she would need to put in to continue to improve. Therefore, she became one of the leading forces to create this program in order to build-up distance running in Monroe City. She has become a leader, making sure her team stays together and fully supports each other for the two seasons that she has been in cross country. She has had some amazing experiences, and some heartbreaks, such as missing State as a team for the second year in a row by 1 point. However, she always takes it in stride and celebrates those that are State bound.”

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The cross-country sport is no easy climb. This team ran early in the morning before most are even awake, practicing at 5:30 a.m. Coach Mulvaney stated, “This sport takes a lot of discipline and hard work, and that’s what makes these athletes so special. Their work ethic is unsurpassed, and they are always working to improve.”

The Monroe City Cross Country boys’ team and individual state qualifiers will head to the Class 2 State Meet on Friday, November 6. The girls will run at 1:30 p.m. and the boys will run at 4 p.m. There will only be two spectators allowed per runner. Coach Mulvaney shared, “Currently plans are being finalized to livestream the races on MSHSAA.tv.”

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