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Eureka girls win cross country district meet, set for Class 4 sectional race and chance to earn state berth

The Eureka Wildcats are on the run and ready to race in the girls sectional meet with the goal being to return as a team to the state meet.

The Wildcats won the Class 4 District 4 meet at Brookdale Farms in Eureka with 35 points.  Coming in second was Parkway West with 78 followed by Lafayette (79) and Marquette (122). A total of 11 teams competed in the meet.

The Eureka girls cross country team will race Saturday in the Class 4 sectional at Parkway Central. The Wildcats won their first district title since 2014 when they won the District 4 meet at Brookdale Farms.

Coach Darrell Lewis said his  squad was ready for the postseason.

“The girls have put in a lot of hard work for months to give themselves the best opportunity to run well during the three weeks stretch of districts, sectionals and state,” Lewis said.

His squad likes running at Brookdale Farms.

“Anytime you are the host of an event the kids are excited,” Lewis said. “With Brookdale Farms being a home course it gives the girls the opportunity to run on a course that they know very well. The course itself it mostly flat so it isn’t difficult, but when you add in the cold, rain, and soft footing it made the course more challenging.”

The Wildcats were up for the challenge. Eureka had four girls finish in the top nine in the meet.

“The girls ran very well and we were able to put four girls in the top nine,” Lewis said. “With the competitive level of our district doing that really wasn’t something that we talked about or even something I thought would happen.”

Leah Kleekamp was second overall in 19 minutes, 12.20 seconds. Anna Lomboardo was fourth in 19:21.40. Savannah Lesher was seventh in 19:51.60. Kayla Voelker was ninth in 19:56.10. Lesher’s time was a six-second personal best.

“Leah, Anna, Savannah and Kayla all got out really well, but they were also able to stay calm and keep themselves under control,” Lewis said. “That allowed them to be in a good position later in the race to make moves when other people were already at their limit.”

Haley Wrob came in 13th in 20:09.80. Erika Wrob was 20th in 20:21.90 and Kylie Ghormley was 21st in 20:22.20.

“Haley, Erika and Kylie were our fifth, sixth and seveth runners, but they were able to beat every other team’s fourth runner which really gave us confidence moving into sectionals.”

The title is the first for Eureka since 2013 that the team has won a district championship.

“Any time you can bring home a district championship it is exciting,” Lewis said. “The girls celebrated for a few minutes and then I think their focus immediately shifted to sectionals. They really want to improve on their seventh-place team finish at state from last year and they know that getting through districts was just the first step of that process.

“I was very pleased with their performance. They all knew what they needed to do to win a district championship and all seven of the girls did their jobs.”

The sectional will run at 9 a.m. Saturday at Parkway Central.

“At sectionals we will be competing against seven of the top teams from around the St. Louis area so we will have to run well again,” Lewis said.

Eureka was seventh last year at state and 11th two years ago.  Lewis has some veterans left form those state teams.

“Our team has a lot of experience in big meets like districts, sectionals and state,” Lewis said. “Five of our girls on our varsity team this year ran at state last year. Three ran at state the year before that.  The strength of our team all year has been our depth and our experience.

“Courtney Reid didn’t get the opportunity to run in the district meet, but she has two years of state experience and she can be a mentor for our younger girls like Haley and Erika who haven’t run in the postseason before. We also have girls like freshman Lydia Crooks fighting hard for a spot on the varsity team and that makes our varsity girls work even harder to keep their spots.”

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