The Cassville Ladycat cross country team knew coming into the Big 8 Conference meet that they might be the underdog. Both Carl Junction and East Newton had top notch teams this year, but neither came out on top as Cassville stepped up their efforts and brought home the Big 8 conference championship.
The Lady Wildcats, who hosted this year's Big 8 meet, had not won the award since 2001.
"This was big for our team," said Coach Chris Shore. "East Newton has a solid team and won this race the past two seasons. Our kids were confident that they could do it on our course and then went out and gave us a great effort."
The Ladycats had three girls place among the top 10 runners, but it might have been the next two who secured Cassville's victory.
Ron'L Hoff and Gabby LeCompte both moved up a spot after the halfway point to help Cassville earn the conference crown. Hoff finished 12th with a time of 22:40 and LeCompte came in 26th with a time of 25:03.
Cassville's top three were led by Misty Long. The senior took fourth, finishing with a time of 21:22. Finishing in sixth with a time of 21:34 was Tia Baker. Courtney Beagle placed seventh, completing the hilly course in 21:39.
Also competing on the girls side were Cheyann Essley (32nd), Ariel Oswald (34th) and Hannah Elkins (35th).
For the men's side Ryan Pace earned the top spot. Pace finished seventh with a time of 18:04 to the lead his Wildcat teammates.
Behind him were Willie Linenbrink in 35th place and Kelly Walsh in 40th.
All in all Cassville finished with five runners garnering first or second team All-Conference honors.
Long, Baker, Beagle and Pace were all named to the All-Big 8 first team, and Hoff garnered All-Big 8 second team recognition.
The Wildcats now will prepare for their next challenge - districts. The squad will head to Nevada this weekend to attempt to qualify to state.
Coach Shore also thanked all those who helped get the Cassville cross country course prepared for the Big 8 meet. The course, which is located behind Cassville's Aquatic Park, was in great shape, according to Shore.