Ahrens, Daughtery Excel At State

The cross country runners ran personal bests by over 20 seconds.

Chase Gemes, Staff Editor

Windsor cross country has reached new heights. 

On Friday, the Class 4 state meet for cross country took place in Columbia, Mo. For the first time ever, the team had two state qualifiers–senior Bradley Ahrens and junior Nick Daugherty. 

Both runners set enormous personal records. 

Ahrens took 14th place in the race with a personal record of 15:54.4. 

Ahrens said, “I feel great about my performance. I had a goal all season to go under 16 (minutes). I also had a goal going into this race to get top 15 and to break 16 (minutes) and, to be honest, I thought it could have been a bit of a stretch.”

The experience at state is not new to Ahrens.

Last season, Ahrens barely received a medal with a 25th place finish, which is exactly how many athletes medal at the state meet. 

This year’s meet felt a little different for him. 

“It felt pretty surreal and I just took it in knowing it was my last time running a high school cross country meet,” Ahrens said.  

That thought of it being Ahrens final year definitely crept through his mind heading into the race. 

Looking back at his high school years, Ahrens said, “It’s hard to say what I loved most about cross country over the years. If I had to pick one thing, it would have to be this final race here at state. Not only because of how I did, but the amazing experience and that I got to run state with my teammate Nick. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”

Daugherty is new to the Windsor C-1 School District this year. 

Daugherty said, “(The season) was fantastic. The coaches are fun, personable, and inspiring. The team is easy to get along with. Everyone wants to have fun and we end up spending a lot of time together building stronger relationships that strengthen the team. I couldn’t be happier.”

Daugherty is happy with his performance at state. 

He said, “In my freshman year, I closed my season with a 17:45 and in my sophomore year I wasn’t even able to make it to two practices a week and was injured with shin splints. Completing my junior year at state with a 17:01 should show the immense progress I have made since freshman year.”

Daugherty also has huge goals to accomplish next season. 

He said, “My goal for next season is to (become) all state. As long as I work close with (my) coaches for the next year, I’ll be able to stay in shape and use this time to safely drop my 5k pace more and more without the pressure of being in season. And if I were to get injured, I’d have the time to deal with it out of season rather than in season.”

Cross country coach John Leech is very proud with both Ahrens’ and Daugherty’s performances. 

Leech said, “Brad was originally seeded 20th in the entire race, and he finished 14th. He went under 16 minutes for the first time in school history.  Nick was originally seeded 84th and finished 59th, which means he beat 25 kids that he was not supposed to beat.”

Without Ahrens, the cross country team will have a significant void. Over the past four years, Leech has been able to watch Ahrens’ immense progress. 

Leech said, “He’s grown tremendously since he came to us in middle school. I’ve never seen a kid who has embraced the challenges and amount of work that’s necessary to become a successful cross country runner than Bradley has.”