Lincoln North Star's Jeralyn Poe (24) and Millard West's Sidney Hirsch (49) compete in the girls Class A state cross country championship Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, at Kearney Country Club in Kearney. Poe finished in first place and Hirsch finished second for the second year in a row.

KEARNEY -- Jeralyn Poe joined elite company by winning her second all-class Gold medal at the state cross country meet Friday, and the Lincoln North Star sophomore could have two more years to add to her collection.

Six girls runners have won two all-class Golds since 1993, but no one has more than that.

Poe won the 4,000-meter Class A girls race at the Kearney Country Club in 14 minutes, 42 seconds. That was six seconds faster than Class C champion Gabriella Gracia of Holdrege for the all-class Gold.

"It was amazing to win the all-class Gold again," Poe said. She had many students and teachers at North Star supporting her this week.

“Everyone I talked to said, ‘You have to win.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ I couldn’t break my promise to them, and I kept that in my mind the entire race,” Poe said.

It’s been a season-long competition between Millard West senior Sidney Hirsch and Poe. With about 1,000 meters remaining in the race Friday, Hirsch and Poe ran stride for stride, with their elbows nearly touching. Poe said she pulled away with about 400 meters remaining.

Hirsch was second in 14:51 and Lincoln Pius X freshman Ellie Beiermann third in 15:02.

While some years there are a few runners who appear capable of winning Class A, this year everybody expected a race between Poe and Hirsch.

“Last night, (Hirsch) is all I could think about, and it never really left my mind, and I don’t think it will even after she leaves (high school),” Poe said.

Lincoln East edged Pius X 62-67 for the Class A team title, and Lincoln Southwest was fourth and Lincoln Southeast fifth. Nine runners from four different Lincoln schools medaled with top-15 finishes.

In Class B girls, York freshman Erin Lee took the lead with about 800 meters to go and won by 15 seconds over Molly Sughroue of McCook. York’s last individual girls champion was Nora Shepherd in 1993 for the last of her three championships.

Lee gained confidence after winning the UNK Invitational earlier this season. As for her approach going into the biggest race of her life?

“I just wanted to stay up with the front pack and relax,” Lee said. “I was really nervous, but I kind of calmed down the last few hours before the race started.”

Seward had only one runner in the top 10, but kept its runners close to edge runner-up Plattsmouth 41-63 for the Class B team title. Seward won its third title in four years.

The four Bluejay runners that accounted for the team score -- Lauren Wilcox, Shelbi Sloup, Angel Roth and Marti Vlasin -- were  among the top 21 finishers.

In the first race of the day, Aquinas senior Marissa DeWispelare was a wire-to-wire winner in Class D.

Last year, DeWispelare beat Andrea Weeder of Lindsay Holy Family by less than a second, keeping Weeder from winning a fourth individual title. This year, DeWispelare won by 40 seconds.

“It’s one of those things where you know everybody has a target on your back,” DeWispelare said. “That can either motivate you or scare you, and I tried to use it to motivate me this year.”

The Class D race had to be restarted only a few moments into the race after a runner was tripped. DeWispelare tried not to let it bother her.

“The three seconds before the start is like the worst time in my life, I say,” DeWispelare said. “I had to repeat that again my senior year, so I guess I can say I got five starts at the state cross country meet instead of four.”

Crofton was the Class D team champion for its seventh straight title. Crofton had four runners finish in the top 14 for a team total of 23 points, the third-best total in Class D history.

A second-place finish by Morgan Benesch led Columbus Scotus to the Class C title.


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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