Lincoln East Girls Cross Country team claims fourth consecutive state title

Team celebrates with trophy after victory.

On October 22, 2021, the Lincoln East girls cross country team demonstrated their “run as one” mentality when they won their fourth consecutive state title at the Kearney Country Club. Lincoln East finished with a total score of 54 points (lowest score wins), followed by Fremont with 87 points and Lincoln Southwest with 115 points. The Spartans were led by sophomore Peyton Svehla (7), sophomore Mia Murray (8), junior Izzy Apel (9), freshman Ella Herzberg (17), and junior Berlyn Schutz (18). Sophomore Junior Wissing finished 25th, and sophomore Brookelyn Rasmussen finished 47th.

Part of the Spartans recent success can be attributed to the team’s strong traditions and culture, including their “run as one” mentality. At state, Lincoln East finished in packs, ranging from 7th place to 9th place, as well as 17th and 18th. Packing up, especially in the first 3k of the race, helps teammates push one another, giving them a boost of adrenaline for a strong finish in the last 2k.

“Run as one means so much to our team,” says freshman Ella Herzberg. “Looking over and seeing your teammates in the hardest parts of the races encourages you to keep going. Even in workouts, we stressed the ‘run as one,’ because what you do in practice reflects on the race. Plus, we look pretty intimidating when there is a sea of blue on the race course!”

The coaches have also helped to create the strong bond the runners have, not only in meets, but also during practices. The cross country coaching staff consists of head coach Brian Kabourek, assistant coach Drew Willis, along with Joey Black and Bonnie Smith. You can often spot the runners accompanied by their coaches during hard workouts, easy runs, and long runs, whether they are giving out times, handing out water, or even joining them during their runs.

“The coaching staff has made my cross country experience amazing,” says junior Izzy Apel. “Every single one of the coaches cares about what they do and works to build relationships with us. I am grateful that they push me not only to be a better runner but a student, leader, and teammate.”

The Spartans were able to finish their season strong with a Class A State Championship title. WIth all seven varsity runners returning next year and previous varsity runner Hannah Hanger returning, they are prepared for their 2022 season. As for the seniors, they have had the honor of winning state all 4 years of their highschool career.

“I was able to travel to state all four years of high school and it was an incredible experience to be part of a championship team all four years in a row,” senior Hailey Anderson says. “Although the title was just a bonus on top of the experiences and people I met… I’ve learned a lot about how far I can push myself both mentally and physically and to not give up even when something seems impossible. I’ve met some of my best friends and made the best memories running for this team. LEXC has shown me what it means to be family and for that I’m grateful.”