SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County cross country teams concluded their season Friday in the GHSA Class AAAAAA meet.
Athletes plowed through the hilly course in Carrollton in unfavorable conditions. Temperatures in the low 50s presented new challenges for teams used to running in a warmer climate.
Head coach Pamela Richards, however, said her Effingham County squads weren’t deterred by their environment.
“From extreme heat to cold, from flat courses to courses with extreme inclines, our runners rose to meet each obstacle and kept pressing forward,” she said. “These runners truly made this season great.”
Kody Everett finished first for the Rebels and 68th overall with a time of 18:27. Gunnar Tyson (18:53) placed second and Seth Moye (19:41) rounded out the top Rebels trio.
As a team, Effingham County finished 23rd overall, moving up four spots from a year ago.
“Both the boys and girls team did exceptionally well at the state cross country meet,” Richards said. “The boys not only moved up, but we had two runners on each team place in the top 100 this year. Last year, this was only achieved on the girls team.
“The boys team overall time came down almost two minutes this year and, although the girls held on to 18th place for the second year, their overall time also decreased by almost two minutes with three (newcomers to the program).”
Next year’s Lady Rebels will be anchored by a group of upperclassmen, including Candace Kieffer and Megan Hilton. Kieffer, who battled through a calf injury this season, is already looking forward to what 2020 will bring.
“My goal was to get in the 21s,” Kieffer said. “I got right over a 22 so I was a little disappointed with that and I only improved one place from last year, but I’ve had two injuries. I want to eventually get into the 18s and try not to get hurt. I’m going for it because you don’t know what is going to happen.”