Abbigayle Mathis qualified for the state meet after placing in the top six at the Region 5-AAAAA meet on Saturday at White Oak Park. As a team the Lady Wildcats just missed qualifying as the fifth place team, only the top four teams go. Mathis' time of 20 minutes and six seconds was six seconds ahead of seventh place.
"It was an extremely successful year for the girls. We had the fastest team average that we've ever had. We did have a state qualifier with Abbi. We're excited about her and excited about competing at state Saturday," VR coach Landon Odom said. "Abbi had a really good race. She got out and trained hard. This was her first year running cross country and it was an extremely fast year. She dropped over two minutes on her average time since her first meet and she's a junior, so we'll have her back next year leading the team."
The sixth year coach has one eye on Mathis this Saturday, but also knows he has a strong group coming back that wants to qualify as a team next year.
"We're looking forward to next year. The girls are hungry. They're not satisfied. That's one of the first things the returning girls mentioned was, 'Hey we got the taste of success, but we just missed qualifying as a team. We're excited about coming back and training hard and earning a spot next year,'" Odom said.
With the biggest meet of the year coming up Mathis is peaking at the right time. At last week's region meet the junior broke her own school record by over 20 seconds. Now she is ready to face a tough field in the Class AAAAA girls race that will begin at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.
"She knows that Carrollton's a difficult course and we rested and tapered for our region meet. Her expectations are to go in and be competitive. It's a very fast state. I already know she's gone online and looked up some of the times from around the state. She just wants to go and compete, get that taste of success and bring it back and hopefully bring some other girls with her next year," Odom said.