Rare is a cross country race that still has three runners battling each other side-by-side near the finish of a 3.1-mile race, but that happened Thursday in the girls race at the A-2 district meet.
Jenna Muma from Lincoln East emerged from that pack in the final 50 meters at Pioneers Park and won, giving the freshman her first victory in a high school cross country race.
Muma finished the 5,000-meter race in 19 minutes, 10 seconds. Lizzy Kramer from Lincoln Pius X finished second in 19:12, and Muma’s older sister, Madi, was third in 19:19.
Jenna Muma passed Kramer first, and then Madi Muma. Madi Muma collapsed in exhaustion about 10 yards before the finish, but was able to get up and finish the race and still get third. Lincoln East coach Brian Kabourek said Madi Muma will be OK.
Jenna Muma said she felt really strong near the end of the race.
“For most of the race I was with Lizzy from Pius,” she said. “She was in front of me on the hill at the end, but I passed her, and then in the homestretch I passed Madi.”
Kabourek wasn’t shocked that Jenna Muma beat her sister, who is a junior, and won the race.
“We were looking for a race like this from Jenna because she makes it look so easy,” Kabourek said. “She’s always got a sense of calm on her face. I was very proud of her. It was just one of those things that we knew potentially was going to happen. That’s our third girl now that’s been our No. 1 finisher. That’s kind of a nice luxury to have.”
As they have for much of the season, the top-ranked Spartans dominated the field, putting each of their five scoring runners among the top seven finishers.
Abigail Schmidt finished fourth, Ani Schutz was fifth and Abby Volkmer was seventh for East.
The Spartans will be the favorites to win next week’s state meet, and they’re holding themselves to very high standards. Some of the East runners were disappointed in their times Thursday.
“The biggest problem was after the race the girls were probably their biggest critics,” Kabourek said. “Kevin Hubbell, my assistant coach, had to say, ‘We did win, right?’ That’s the type of individuals they are.”
East won the meet with 20 points. Lincoln Pius X was second with 61 points, and Omaha Marian third with 83 points. Those three teams qualified for state.
For Lincoln Northeast, Hannah Ray and Kate Schoening qualified for state as individuals by finishing sixth and ninth, respectively.
In the boys race, Jack Slagle from Creighton Prep won. He finished in 16:39. His teammate, Ryan Eastman, took second in 16:51.
Slagle and Eastman have gone back-and-forth leading the team this season. Slagle won for the second time this season.
“I was feeling really good,” Slagle said. “It didn’t help that Ryan dropped back. Ryan wasn’t feeling good, and it usually helps us a lot to run together. We really push each other.”
Creighton Prep, Papillion-La Vista and Omaha South were the top three teams and qualified for state.
Lincoln East sophomore Thomas Oliver finished fifth to make state as an individual.