LINCOLN -- The Lincoln High School boys cross country team used a fourth-place finish in the Class 4A, Section 3 meet Friday at Fairview to advance to the AHSAA state meet.
The state meet will be Friday at the Oakville Indian Mounds and Museum in Danville. This is the first time in school history Lincoln has advanced to state.
“All season long, we have been battling with Jacksonville and Oneonta with our times,” Lincoln head coach Allison Miles said. “I knew it was going to be a tough fight to get the fourth-place spot, but we were really determined because we were one point from going to state (last season).
“Everybody was going to need to have their best run they had all season for us to beat Oneonta and Jacksonville, and somehow, they all pulled it off. Everybody got big PRs (personal records); some of them in the (Lincoln) top five got over a minute off their previous personal records.”
In each class at each sectional, the top four teams advanced, as did the top six individuals not on the sectional rosters of the four state-qualifying teams.
Jaylon Hudson has been a member of Lincoln’s cross country team for four years. He said the squad was emotional after earning a state berth.
“It was a lot of crying because last year missing it by one point was devastating,” Hudson said. “That has been our goal since the beginning of the year, to go as a team.”
Hudson played a major role in the Golden Bears’ success at the sectional.
The senior finished second with a time of 17 minutes, 12 seconds, which was a personal record. This is Hudson’s third time qualifying for state. He credits a positive mindset for helping push through the different obstacles he faces during a race.
“I give all glory to God,” Hudson said. “He has been with me every step of the way. My coaches, my family, my friends and everybody that has supported me in everything that I have done, I just thank them.
“It is always that mentality within me that there is nothing more that I can do training wise, it is more mental. In your mind, you have to get the mentality that when you are in pain, you just have to push through it.
“I just think about all the positive things while I am running. I think about the good things that make me smile, so I am not thinking about the pain anymore. That’s what has carried me throughout the season.”
Hudson said it’s been amazing to see the progress the cross country program has made the past four seasons.
“It is a lot more emotional for us because we came from nothing,” Hudson said. “Building this cross country team four years ago to what it is now is a really big accomplishment. With this being our first time going to state as a team, I just want us to give it our all. It is a experience not everybody can experience.”
Hudson and Dylan Miles are the only members of the team with state experience. Miles said his advice to runners is to rely on what got you there.
“It is a lot bigger and it is a little overwhelming, especially if it is your first time,” Miles said. “I am honestly going to be overwhelmed with it being my second time. You just have to remember your training and everything that you have done throughout the season. Run your own race, but still run a good race.”
Hudson said he would like to end his high school cross country career by crushing the personal record he set last week.
“I wrote 17 down on my hand as I didn’t get to 17 flat like I wanted to. I know that I can do better,” he said. “Just the atmosphere at state is something that you’ve never experienced, and it makes you run 20 times faster, knowing that you are competing against the best in the state.
“My goal for state is to break 17, even though I haven’t reached that point. It is going to be 16:59. It’s my senior year, and that is what I am focused on. I want to end it with a bang. I think everybody is going to try to go for something better than they had.”
Lincoln also had two girls qualify for state in sophomore Alexis Miller and seventh-grader Danielle Rollins
Joining Hudson and Miles on the boys team are JR Proctor, Ethan Nabors, Austin Creamer, Hunter Smith, Kawliga Miller, Josh Gray, John Kelly and Ethan Greene.