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story.lead_photo.caption Submitted photoThis year’s Prairie Home cross country team consisted of, in the back row from left to right: coach Marie Pope, Landon Case, Savanna Tracy, Allen Haslag and coach Sage Eichenburch. In the front row is Preston Scheidt. Will Wright is not pictured.

For all of its challenges, this year has brought at least one positive for one of Prairie Home’s athletics teams.

With a season that saw a female runner make it to state for the first time in school history now in the books for the Prairie Home Panthers cross country team, head coach Marie Pope said the team had an amazing run.

“We were all just excited to have an entire season, and we really lucked out with the weather,” she said. “Every runner had a PR (personal record) at least once throughout the season, which really makes all of the hard work worth it.”

As the season went along, Pope said everyone on the team competed and worked hard to face the challenges of the season.

“Those that struggled at various points in the season really pushed through and grew as athletes,” she said.

While the team as a whole made improvements, Pope said each individual runner made personal improvements during the season as well.

“The most obvious improvement to me was that all of our runners really started listening to their bodies during training, learned their physical limits and started to really take care of themselves during recovery time,” Pope said. “Races are affected by how you treat your body when you’re not actually running. That’s where big changes are made.

“All of our runners improved this season. They became stronger and smarter runners. Every year, they learn to trust the training and trust themselves a little more,” Pope said.

Heading into next season, Pope said she is looking forward to growing the team and seeing some of the returning runners grow as leaders.

“We’re losing one senior going into next season. Allen (Haslag) was a strong leader throughout the year, so I’m looking forward to a few of my runners growing into their own as leaders,” Pope said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to build the Prairie Home cross country program driven by hardworking athletes.”

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