Unofficial best overall time in the state on Saturday

WAMEGO – Completing a once in a life time high school career, Chapman High School’s Taylor Briggs not only became the sixth runner to win four state championships, she had the best time by all female runners on Saturday across the state.

Briggs glided over the toughest cross-country courses in the state of Kansas by running a remarkable 18:18.96 on a windy Saturday morning in Wamego. Briggs finished a full two minutes ahead of second place runner Sydney Owens in the Class 4A championship. Owens, a freshman from Eudora, ran 20:09.70 with third place going Clearwater sophomore Hayley Trotter at 20:22.36. Buhler senior Leah Bentley ran fourth with a time of 20:36.25. Rounding out the top five was Baldwin junior Riley Smith at 20:42.05.

“Obviously, I am very fortunate and proud to have an amazing athlete like Taylor,” Chapman High School head cross country coach Cindy Zumbrunn said. “Even though I don’t feel like I can take much credit for her success. Having an athlete who is naturally talented, extremely hard working, and very self-motivated is rare, individuals with all those qualities and characteristics ‘rolled into one,’ don’t come along very often. Add to that, what a respectful, genuine, and kind person she is…it all makes her even more exceptional.”

Briggs didn’t change her strategy Saturday as she used the same formula that has been successful for her in every course run she has attempted in four years of running cross-country for the Irish. Start out really strong, get the lead early and maintain her planned pace throughout the ups, downs, hills, valleys or flat lands of the course. And, Wamego’s Country Club Golf Course has all those features to test a runner.

“It’s definitely surreal that this is my last year,” Briggs said. “It was a good day to run today, a lot warmer than it was earlier this week. I think I ran well today and I know the wind held me back a little and I wasn’t able to get the 4A record, but that’s OK. I am happy with where I am.”

Her 18:18.96 time at Wamego was the fastest time recorded by any female champion Saturday over the three courses used by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. The Class 6A champion, Anjali Hocker Singh of Olathe North, ran 18:39.16 at the Wichita State Cross Country course in Augusta. The 5A winner, Hope Jackson of Bishop Carroll, ran that same course at 18:58.00.

Colby High School’s Lara Murdock finished the Wamego course Saturday afternoon with a 19:36.80 winning time. The Class 2A and 1A winners ran at Victoria. In Class 2A, Stanton County’s Chesney Peterson, finished unofficially at 18:19.1 while the 1A champion, Lincoln’s Jaycee Vath, won with a time of 19:20.0.

What’s next for

Taylor Briggs

Briggs will now concentrate on training for a high school track season in the spring, something that she and every other spring athlete missed last year due to COVID 19 concerns and cancellations. She is a multiple state champion track and field athlete as well and high school record holder at Chapman High School.

Briggs has not decided her beyond high school destination as of yet, but she has her sites on a field of study at the next level, and of course she will be running.

“I am still asking God about my future every day,” Briggs said. “I’m still asking. But I am definitely inspired by the field of dietetics and nutrition and that is where I really want to go and pursue.”

“I think her talent, work ethic, and motivation will definitely help her to translate to the next level,” Zumbrunn said. “In fact, because of Taylor’s experiences, training, preparation, etc., I think it will almost be easier for her to translate to the next level than it would be for most high school athletes. I don’t believe that she is the average 17 or 18 year-old.”

Growing up to

be like Taylor

One of the questions most asked of Taylor by the media Saturday was her feelings about how she has now become a hero to little girls everywhere, to grow up and be successful like Taylor Briggs.

“I appreciate the thought that other girls may want to be like me,” Briggs said. “But I think each runner is their own individual and that they should run for themselves and for God and see where that takes them. They should just work the hardest they can.”

“I would like to think that Taylor’s success could help us with developing young girls to be distance runners in cross country and track,” coach Zumbrunn said. “I’m hoping there will be an upward trend for that. One of my ongoing challenges has been trying to find athletes who want to run the longer distances and work that hard. It’s a challenging sports that takes a lot of hard work, determination, grit and self-motivation.”

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

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