Laura Korb fifth at state
Wamego More than 100 runners, 84 girls competing as part of the 12 teams qualified for state and a huge crowd it would make most people nervous.
But Laura Korb, aside from trouble falling asleep the night before the Kansas 4A state cross country meet and some jitters right before the race, ran like a veteran.
The freshman finished her first meet in 12:19.04, a step or two behind the fourth-place finisher.
Phil Williams, Tonganoxie cross country coach, more than 100 Tonganoxie cross country fans, and the Tonganoxie Cross Country team cheered her on Saturday in Wamego.
"I was real pleased with Laura," Williams said. "She ran a real gutty race her first time at state."
Runners often get nervous at big meets like the state meet, Williams said.
There is the competition the fastest girls in the state run, trying to beat each other in a two-mile race.
There is the crowd people from all four corners of Kansas dressed in their school's colors and yelling at the top of their lungs.
There is the atmosphere brightly colored tents, banners, the crowd creating a tunnel along the chalked running line.
"That can either psych you up or make you nervous," Williams said.
But it didn't faze Korb.
Once the race began, it was just her, the other runners and the course.
"I liked it, and it seemed to go fast," Korb said.
Korb allowed Cassie Funke of Haven, who finished in fourth, to pass her on the final downhill before the sprint to the finish.
After the race she said that was a mistake.
"I thought I had a pretty good chance at the fourth place," Korb said.
Knowledge like that will help Korb next season.
As she matures as a runner, she should be even more dangerous.
And, Williams said, if the girls can get one or two more runners to improve their times and placings, Korb could be the anchor for a very strong team next season.
Even with her concentration on running Saturday and her apparent lack of nerves, Korb noticed the excitement around her.
The Tonganoxie fans who made the trip didn't do so in vain. Their cheering during and after the race found an appreciative ear.
"Yeah, I hear 'em," Korb said.