Liberty High School cross country girls race to No. 5 spot

November 6, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Liberty High School runners Megan Chucka (left) and Allie Wood run in tandem at the state cross-country championships held at the Sun Willows Golf Course on Nov. 3. By Mike Smith

To call the Liberty High School girls cross-country season a success would be an understatement.

The team, led by coach Mike Smith, brought home plenty of hardware this year, winning the KingCo 3A title for the first time in school history and capturing its third consecutive Sea-King District title.

Heading into the state championships, the team was ranked fourth in the state, its highest ranking ever.

At the Nov. 3 championships in Pasco, the Patriots placed fifth in what was the team’s best state finish ever.

But it was a bittersweet moment for the close-knit team, after star runner Megan Chucka suffered an asthma reaction during the race, preventing her from finishing in the individual top 10, as she had hoped, Smith said.

Still, the resilient Chucka, a senior, finished the race and even ran her best time at state with a time of 19 minutes, 56 seconds.

“You know, things can happen, you can get the flu, you can have an asthma attack and you can’t predict that,” Smith said. “Still, this is the very beginning of what I think is going to be a very long career for Megan.”

The Patriots had three runners, including Chucka, complete the course in less than 20 minutes, led by senior Allie Wood, who finished with a time of 19:35. Sarah Bliesner finished with a time of 19:43.

The team also had solid performances from Carlyn Schmidgall, Rachel Shaw, Megan Larson and Jordan Raymond on the way to its fifth place finish.

The girls had high expectations coming in, Smith said, and were a bit disappointed with the fifth place finish. They had hoped to make it onto the podium and add yet another trophy to their arsenal. Ultimately, they fell just short.

It all speaks to the heightened expectations of the successful cross-country program that Smith has built at Liberty through the years.

“The team was upset,” Smith said. “But they improved three positions from last year and they were just a couple of points out from fourth. All things considered, the difference between fourth and fifth isn’t much.”

This 2012 Patriot team was a special group, characterized by its strong work ethic, Smith said.

“We were just really proud,” he said. “The dynamic this year was really good.”

Liberty boys compete at state

Liberty runners Hiron Redman and Aaron Bowe both competed in the state championship.

Bowe, a junior, placed in the individual top 50 with a time of 16:39. Redman, a senior, finished up his high school cross-country career with a time of 17:19.

It was Bowe’s first time at the state championships and Smith was proud of his runner’s effort.

“Aaron pushed pretty hard and he had one of the better finishes that a Liberty runner has had in the past,” Smith said.

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