NATCHITOCHES — It didn’t take Parkway senior Alison Ringle’s disappointment to turn to pure joy.
After two runner-up finishes in the last three years, Ringle’s goal was to win this year.
As usual, she gave it her best effort and led at the two-mile mark. But suffering from dehydration in the 70-degree weather she faded in the final mile.
Still, she managed to finish sixth before collapsing at the finish.
A little while later, though, Ringle was up and around, celebrating a Class 5A state championship with her teammates on the infield of the Walter Ledet Track and Field Complex at Northwestern State.
“We have a state dinner,” said Ringle, a two-time state champion in track and field. “All of the state runners get together and that’s typically where we get all of our emotions out and everything before the state meet,” said Ringle, a two-time state champion in track and field.
“I told them I’d much rather have a team state championship with all of you guys than an individual. And that’s what happened, and everything happens for a reason. God put these girls in my life for a reason and I could not have asked for a better team, and I could not have asked for a better outcome. I’m very happy and satisfied and so blessed. To God be the glory.”
In what was a true team effort, Parkway placed two runners in the top 10 and five in the top 22 to win the first girls cross country state title in school history. The boys won the Class 4A title in 2010.
Parkway is also only the third public school to win a 5A girls title, according to coach Kent Falting.
The Lady Panthers scored 70 points to 85 for runner-up Dominican of New Orleans. St. Joseph’s of Mandeville was third with 100.
Parkway sophomore Sara Funderburk finished seventh in 19:39.41. Senior Jessica McGuffee was 16th (20:14.39), senior Jayni Wilcher 19th and senior Destiney McGaffey 22nd (20:27.99).
Funderburk said the Lady Panthers were determined to improve on their third-place finish last year.
“This we’ve trained and it’s just awesome,” Funderburk said. “Everyone’s crying. Five out of the seven girls are seniors. We’re just so excited. We can’t even put it into words.”
Other members of the state championship team are freshman Ariel McGaffey (32nd, 20:49.36) and sophomore Cassidy Cummings (46th, 21:27.47). Team captain Kaleigh Newman was honored as an Academic All-State selection for her 4.0 GPA along with Ringle.
Ringle, an Alabama commitment, had to be carried by assistant coach Steven Vrbka to the awards area after the race.
“I’m not quite sure what happened,” she said. “I jut know at the two-mile mark I went completely dead. All the energy left me and it was hard to keep going. Sometimes when you’re out there you just want to stop. The hardest thing is making yourself go whenever you hurt, but we came through and they backed me up and it’s awesome.”
The Benton girls finished fourth in Class 4A with 125 points. St. Thomas Moore, which placed three in the top 10, won with 55. The Lady Tigers finished only two points behind third-place St. Michael of Baton Rouge.
Freshman Rachel Payne and junior Quinci Middlebrooks led Benton, finishing 11th and 12th respectively. Junior Katie McKay was 17th, senior Emma Owen 42nd, junior Kirsten Basco 52nd, junior Haley Dishman 53rd and freshman Jenna Keys 59th.
Airline sophomore Maya Randle finished 56th.