Cross Country • State finals

Tom Batters
Eureka junior Kalla Gold finished sixth in the Class 1A state championship race Saturday at Detweiller Park.

Don’t use all your energy too soon — but don’t fall too far behind, either.

Eureka junior Kalla Gold mastered that strategy on her way to a sixth place finish in the Class 1A state championship race Saturday at Detweiller Park.

It was Gold’s third career all-state medal (eighth last year, fifth in 2008).

“There’s a lot more strategy than some people think,” Gold said. “I didn’t want to go out too hard, but I didn’t want to fall behind the pack. I felt really good out there. I’m happy with my race.”

The Eureka girls team finished eighth.

The weather was brisk Saturday morning (the 1A race started at 9 a.m.) with temperatures in the low 40s, but that was more of an issue for the spectators than the runners.

“It was a good day to run,” Gold said.

Gold maintained her sixth-place spot for most of the race, even as the lead pack, led by race winner Kristen Busch of Freeburg, darted to an early lead at a very fast pace.

Busch’s winning time (17:36) came close to the Class 1A record (17:27 by Eureka’s Olivia Klaus in 2007.

“These were some of the best runners in the state, and you saw how good they were today,” said Eureka coach Brett Charlton. “Kalla ran an outstanding race. It was a great way to end the season. That lead group was in her sights the whole time, and she stayed right up there with them.”

Charlton said the team put together its best effort of the season.

“Everyone ran really well,” he said. “We had a solid two through six split. We ended the year with our best possible race, and I’m pleased with that.”

Gold, a heralded track sprinter who only started running cross country three years ago, said her experience on the Detweiller Park course also helped her on Saturday.

“I know the course pretty well,” she said. “I knew I had to have enough left coming into that last turn.”

The rest of the Eureka girls finished as follows: Natalie Puent, 50th; Taylor Watson, 56th; Katy Boggs, 58th; Laura Magnuson, 64th; Kayla Hilligoss, 71st; and Kinsey Herrmann, 112th.

METAMORA - CLASS 2A

Metamora senior Sarah Flintgruber placed 15th in the Class 2A championship with a time of 17:47, even after she took a fall at the two mile mark.

“I was right behind a pack and got too close and  tripped and fell,” Flintgruber said. “I got a view you don’t usually get, but I rolled up and kept going.”

Head coach Gene Jones said the senior ran a good race, despite the fall.

“She ran well. Someone said she fell coming up the straight away, but she still placed,” he said. “She is a tremendous young lady and a tremendous leader.”

Freshman Danica Dragoo placed 24th at her first state meet with a time of 17:54.

“It wasn’t my best race, but I’m a freshman so I have three more years,” Dragoo said. “I’m very proud of where I finished. I’m going to go out the next three years and get in the top 10.”

Senior Kevin Kamm ran with a time of 15:45, placing 70th overall.

“Kevin ran well. He was going for the top 25, but fell short,” said Jones. “He had a good race and ran well for his senior year.”

With 167 individuals and 20 teams in both the girls and boys races, the three Metamora students were not lost in the crowd.

Flintgruber and Dragoo were honored in the top 25 runners after the Class 2A race.

Receiving medals, they stood on the stage smiling and their excitement could barely be held in.

Flintgruber said she beat her personal record.

“I did really well. I beat my PR by six seconds. I couldn’t be happier,” she said.

“Sarah is a senior and she was an all-stater her sophomore year,” Jones said. “Last year she was injured but she got back and ran a fantastic race.”

Jones said Kamm ran injured last year, also.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Jones said.