They don’t have stadiums, hundreds of screaming fans or televised events, but they do have state championships. This season, the girl’s gymnastics and cross country teams each earned first place state titles.
The girl’s gymnastics teams dealt with numerous changes, with a new coach and practices held at LHS. This season, however, proved to be one to remember.
“This gymnastics season, overall, was the best one I’ve had yet,” junior Grace Bartle said.
Just thinking about the state meet, Bartle can’t help but smile.
“I felt amazing,” Bartle said. “I was so happy, I couldn’t stop smiling, and I started crying because I was so happy, and it was just such a great feeling just to feel like all the pressure was off and that all of our hard work had paid off.”
However, the title wasn’t the only thing that made the gymnastics team’s year special. The group of girls share a bond that’s endured more than just the high school season.
“We have been doing gymnastics together and competing together since we were in first grade,so we know each other inside and out,” Bartle said. “We’ve been through so much together.”
Despite their qualification to state, the gymnastics team was not recognized for its state qualification at the fall sports assembly. Following the assembly, StuCo tweeted that it wasn’t announced due to a time crunch.
“Because of the brownbag fashion show, [the assembly] took up a lot more time than we anticipated,” said junior Jody Willmott, StuCo secretary and treasurer. “So, it messed with our schedule that we had made, so we didn’t have time to recognize the gymnastics team.”
The girl’s cross country team also had a season for the record books– literally. Not only did they take first at state for the first time in Free State’s history, but freshman Emily Venters was the first individual state champion Free State has ever had.
The team battled injury and illness on race day, and still managed to take the title. Freshman Kiran Cordes woke up with a cold the morning of state, but she was able to run anyways.
“…After my performance I thought ‘oh great I really let the team down,’ and knowing that we scored first over Olathe East, which is our biggest rival, it was a good feeling,” Cordes said.
Despite some minor setbacks, the team had a good attitude the morning of the race.
“We all know we could do it–it was just a matter of actually running a good race,” senior Bailey Sullivan said.
The whole day was especially sentimental because it was the last time a few of the seniors would race together. So, when head coach Steve Heffernan tapped senior Molly McCord on the shoulder and held up a number one with his finger, there was an emotional reaction.
“I cried,” Sullivan said. “I started crying like immediately.”
The team ended this season not only with a title but with a strong bond and memories too.
“I’d like to say that I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and that I’m proud of everyone who I ran with,” Cordes said.