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Beach takes first at 6A State; Gawlick and Henry round out Huskies’ performance

With her personal record of 18:25.7 at state, Riley Beach claimed the 6A State Title as a freshman at Rim Rock. Senior Eric Gawlick placed 16th and junior Katie Henry placed 23rd.

Ben Brown, Sports Editor

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Nearing the halfway point, Riley beach battles for the lead at Rim Rock on Oct. 28.

LAWRENCE- In the first race of the morning, freshman Riley Beach approached the starting line with fellow runner Katie Henry at her side. Beach would end her cross country season running at Rim Rock Farms for 6A State.

Just one week prior to this, Beach qualified for 6A State by placing first at regionals at JCCC, a major accomplishment in itself for a freshman. At regionals, Beach set her own personal record of 18:28 for a five kilometer race. Prior to regionals, Beach said her goal was to place at 6A State at some point during her time at BVNW.

However, Beach would face a much a different monster today as the cold weather along with the hills of Rim Rock would stand in between her and her goal of placing at 6A State.

As the race started, Beach got ahead of the majority of the racers and established herself as a top runner.

Throughout the race, Beach maintained her pace despite others challenging her. As the race went on, Beach and a few others started pulling away from the pack. The daunting hills of Rim Rock proved to be no match for the freshman as she was still able to hold the lead.

With the finish line in sight, Beach mustered up all her energy left to finish the race ahead of the rest. While another runner battled to take the lead in the last moments of the race, Beach crossed the finish line before all other runners with a time of 18:25.7 earning her a 6A State Title.

With her new personal record and a title under her belt, Beach said she was in shock.

“I’m pretty much in awe,” Beach said. “It kind of feels like a dream, just like something I never thought would happen, but it’s just a really good feeling right now.”

After being on the team for a year, head coach Matt LeCount said Beach was deserving of being named a state champion, and he is excited for her future at BVNW.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better young lady,” LeCount said. “It’s been just a joy to watch her have success especially towards the tail end of the season.”

Not far behind Beach was Henry who had a successful race as she finished with a time of 19:56 which was good for 23rd out of a large group of runners. Henry said considering the conditions, she was proud of her race.

“It could have gone a lot better, but I had trouble breathing due to the cold,” Henry said. “I could have pushed myself harder, but overall I’m really happy with my place and it was way better than my first time at state, so I’m pretty happy with it.”

While Beach and Henry still have time left as Huskies, senior Eric Gawlick ran his final race as a Husky in the boys race for 6A State. Gawlick was able to improve his time from earlier this season at Rim Rock to 16:27 for state which was 16th for the race. Gawlick said the race went well for him on the chilly morning.

“I actually felt amazing, Gawlick said. “It was a cold day and I knew I prepared myself for it, so I knew it was going to be a good race.”

After four years, Gawlick said he will miss the team aspect and the individuals on the cross country team at BVNW.

“Honestly they’re my family,” Gawlick said. “They were the world to me, and that’s what really matters.”

With impressive finishes from all three BVNW runners, LeCount said all of them ran well for the conditions.

With it being her first year at BVNW, Beach said she is looking forward to the future, especially more time with the whole cross country team.

“I’m hoping that I can continue to be successful and just get to be with my team,” Beach said. “I think that’s the best part of this whole thing.”

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Beach takes first at 6A State; Gawlick and Henry round out Huskies’ performance