KEARNEY — The Kearney High girls cross country team enters Friday’s state meet at the Kearney Country Club with something it hasn’t had most of the season.
“We’re capable. We’re healthy. The kids are feeling good,” KHS coach Pat McFadden said. “We had some really good workouts here the last week and a half and we’re set to run fast.”
The Bearcats are the 10th-ranked team in the Class A coaches ratings, but McFadden said, “I think we can do better than that.”
Part of the reason for optimism is the return of junior Hannah Godwin, arguably the Bearcats’ No. 1 runner. Godwin placed 12th at state as a freshman and fourth last year. However, she missed most of this season with a back injury.
While she was out, McFadden said: “You couldn’t have asked for a better athlete to do the things that were necessary to stay in good condition. She has come back ready to help the team.”
She ran as a junior varsity representative in the Heartland Athletic Conference meet before returning to the varsity at last week’s district race.
“She’s 100 percent right now. Not the 100 percent she would have been if she hadn’t had to deal with her injury,” McFadden said. “It’s hard to do what she wants to do and what normally she would be capable of doing, but she doesn’t lack the effort. She’s just going to lay it out there and do the best she can.”
Godwin is running second on the team to senior Grace Bonsall, who finished second at last week’s district meet.
“Grace has had a great season. Her being runner-up in our district was quite a feat,” McFadden said. “Grace is just looking stronger and stronger.”
To finish higher than their rating, Kearney High will have to put together one of its strongest races of the year. The state field is not short on talent as the Class A girls race has 25 runners who have placed in the top 15 in previous years.
“I think it will be a fun race to watch. There’s just so much talent out there. I think there will be lot of fast times being run. I’m looking forward to Friday,” McFadden said.