The only real challenge Tori Findley faced Saturday morning, at the wind-blown Class 4 District 7 cross country championships, came from Mother Nature.
“When I was running downhill,” said Findley, who won the race by 37 seconds over teammate Danielle Hotalling, “it was like the wind was at my back and was going to blow me face down.
“Then, when I was running uphill, it was in my face and I was like, ‘Am I even running?’ It was that strong.”
But it didn’t keep the senior from winning her third consecutive district title and leading her team to a remarkable fourth district championship in a row.
The Jaguars totaled 35 points, well ahead of second-place Blue Springs, who finished with 47 at Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Independence.
Lee’s Summit North was third at 70 and a surprising Grain Valley squad was fourth at 121.
The top four teams and top 30 individual runners advanced to sectionals next Saturday at Kearney.
“We’ve had some outstanding individual runners and teams here; I’ve been blessed,” South coach Ryan Unruh said. “But until this group came along, we never even thought about winning four district titles. That’s hard to do against the competition we face. I am so proud of this team and so happy for the girls.”
Findley, who has committed to run for the University of Missouri, didn’t want to talk about her third win in a row, she just wanted to praise her teammates for the fourth team crown.
“It’s amazing to win four conference championships in a row,” Findley said, “and there isn’t any other team I would rather share it with than these girls. I love them so much, and can’t wait to see what we do next week.”
Findley shared the team crown with fellow seniors Hotalling (18:57.12), Emma Bassford (11th, 20:41.54) and Amaya Hernandez (22nd, 21:39.87) and sophomores Lauren Low (seventh, 20:19.56) and Paige Fallis (17th, 21:23.78).
“It’s amazing,” Hotalling said. “The last four years have been so successful and so much fun. I am proud to share all this with my great teammates.”
• Grain Valley coach Nick Small was thrilled that his team was able to compete with the bigger schools, finishing fourth.
“We’re so much smaller than the other schools, but our kids are never intimidated,” Small said after Valerie Holcomb finished eighth (20:31.83) and Kayla Wade finished 16th 921:23.10) to pace the Eagles.
“Our girls work so hard, and it’s great to see that hard work rewarded.”
• Blue Springs’ Tessa Valdivia was third (19:06.13) and teammate Elaina Hubner was fourth (19:33.73) to pave the way for the second-place Wildcats.
• Truman junior Stacy Briggs earned a spot at sectionals with a sixth-place finish in 20:10.11, while Fort Osage senior Hailey Alvis advanced by finishing ninth (20:32.86).
• William Chrisman sent a pair of runners on. Lilly Conner-Urnise (21:54.45) and Kayli Perez (22:02.61) were 28th and 29th, respectively.
• Madelyn Robinson (fifth, 20:08.49), Annie McCord (12th, 20:41.77) and Samantha Simpson (13th, 20:42.44) led Lee’s Summit North.