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Notre Dame's Kiblinger runs to third-place finish in Class 3 state cross country meet
Notre Dame's Elizabeth Kiblinger capped her senior year with a remarkable finish at the Class 3 state cross country meet Saturday.
Kiblinger finished third to earn all-state honors at the Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City, Mo.
"I surprised myself," Kiblinger said. "I was just hoping for a top-10 finish. I never dreamed of getting in the top five."
Kiblinger missed second place by 33 hundredths of a second, finishing in 19 minutes, 33.97 seconds.
"They were definitely tired at the end, so that last part was pretty tough," Kiblinger said about her legs. "I was right with a girl, but I didn't have enough left in me to pass her at the end."
Notre Dame coach Bill Davis was less surprised by Kiblinger's finish.
"We actually went up there with the idea that she possibly could win it," he said. "She was 11 seconds off the lead. The girl who won it was a freshman."
Kearney freshman Olivia Franklin won the race in 19:22.75.
Davis said Kiblinger and Kearney's Jasmine Edwards battled for second place for about the final 200 meters.
"It was an unbelievable finish," Davis said. "They were right together for the last 150 to 200 meters and it was a photo finish."
Davis said he liked Kiblinger's attitude entering the race, which he credited in helping her finish in the top five.
"She's well-trained and in good shape and she went up with a real good attitude," he said. "I think that's the biggest thing when you get up there. If your attitude is you're going to be up there in the front and run that kind of race, a lot of times that's exactly what happens. Not everybody goes up there with that kind of attitude."
Kiblinger said she stayed at the front of the race throughout.
"I was just going to try to stay with the leaders as long as I could to see where that took me," she said. "I was probably within the top five the whole time. I stayed pretty consistent throughout the race."
Kiblinger also earned all-state honors last year when she was 17th. She said she knew toward the end of Saturday's race that she would improve greatly on last year's finish.
"Probably with a half mile left, I started having confidence because I had hit the worst part of the course," she said.
Notre Dame's Breanna Conklin was 17th two miles into the race before fading to 38th.
Cole Ross led the Bulldogs' boys contingent by taking 67th. It was the first time in eight years that Notre Dame did not have a team compete at the state meet.
Class 3 results
Notre Dame -- 3. Elizabeth Kiblinger 19:33.97; 38. Breanna Conklin 20:54.52; 76. Elsie Anderson 21:54.13
Notre Dame -- 67. Cole Ross 18:25.06; 91. Jacob Meadors 18:42.36