Central brings home trophy

Sunday, November 4, 2007
Central's Tiffany Mead competed during the Class 4 girls state cross country meet Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo. (Andrew Jansen ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Cross country: The Tigers girls finished in the top four for the first time in school history.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Tiffany Mead and Brittany Moreland achieved nearly the same things in different manners Saturday in the Class 4 state cross country meet at Oak Hills Golf Center.

Both came up with top-30 finishes that supported junior Veronica Schabbing's all-state run and propelled the Central girls cross country team to its first state trophy in the program's history.

The Tigers finished fourth to cap a season that included Central's first Hancock Invitational title, another SEMO Conference crown and district and sectional championships.

"I heard it was history, so it's real exciting," said Mead, a senior who was making her first state meet appearance.

Central's Tiffany Mead, left, and Veronica Schabbing celebrated with their Class 4 fourth-place trophy Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo. (Andrew Jansen ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Mead finished 26th, one spot from grabbing a state medal, with a strong finish. Moreland finished three spots behind her after being among the top 15 with Schabbing for nearly 3 miles.

"The last .1 mile got her," Central coach Mark Hahn said. "At the bottom of that hill, with about 300 meters to go, Brittany was in front of Ronny [Schabbing]."

But Moreland labored to the finish and required medical attention after the race.

Mead passed her in the final 50 meters.

"I knew she was hurting," Mead said. "I wish I could have yelled to help her a little bit, but I was out of it."

Central's Brittany Moreland tried to maneuver around Cor Jesu's Kate Horan during the Class 4 girls state cross country meet Saturday. (Andrew Jansen ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Hahn was not certain what caused Moreland's problems at the finish, but he expected her to recover. She was walking on her own from the course after the awards ceremonies.

"When you have something like that happen, it becomes your priority," said Hahn, who had not had a chance to look at the results before the team gathered behind the stage to accept its fourth-place trophy.

The Tigers had come into the state meet as a contender for some hardware.

Schabbing, a state medalist last year, was her consistent self with a 14th-place finish in 19 minutes, 56 seconds.

"I was hoping to get in the top 10," she said, "but whatever place I got, I'm fine with it."

Central's Veronica Schabbing prepared to make her move around Parkway West's Natalie Becker during their Class 4 girls state cross country meet Saturday. (Andrew Jansen ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Moreland was in her hip pocket again, but had to gut out a finish that impressed Hahn.

"Brittany was in oxygen deficiency," he said. "Pretty much anyone you or I know, if they had been in that state of oxygen deficiency, would have stopped, sat down and stayed there until the end of the day. The fact she finished is incredible. If she wouldn't have done that, we wouldn't have been in the top four."

The Tigers' 144 points was 71 behind champion Lee's Summit West, 38 behind Eureka, 17 behind Rockwood Summit and 15 ahead of Jefferson City. The Tigers had beaten Eureka and Rockwood Summit in the sectional last week.

But it didn't stop Hahn from enjoying his first opportunity to touch a state trophy.

His five scorers were rounded out by freshmen -- Mary Dohogne (41st) and Lessley Dennington (116th). Finishing sixth for the team was another freshman, Jordyn Richmond (117th with a personal record). Senior Rachel Burchyett was close behind in 119th.

"I was real pleased with how the first-time girls came through the first mile," Hahn said. "We're real big on everyone pacing to that first mile and then racing the next two. It's asking a lot for them to hold back. You have to be patient."

Mead showed that patience in just her second year of running cross country after being a 400- and 800-meter standout in track.

"We had to twist her arm to get her to run middle distances," Hahn said.

"I started to do it to help me get better in track," Mead said. "And one of the girls told me you get to eat all the time, and I like to eat. Then I started doing it just because I liked cross country."

It showed Saturday on a course with an atmosphere that intimidates some first-timers.

"I thought this was an easier course than last week," she said. "I think this is one of my best races all year. I really liked the course. This is my first year at state, and my last. It's sad."

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