By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
DEARBORN - The North Platte girls' track and field team made history this past weekend, claiming their first ever state championship at the Class 2 state track meet at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City.
The Panthers tallied 71 total points - 23 more than second place Lawson. Leading the way was junior Olivia Rogers, who won four gold medals on the final day of the meet in the 100 and 200 meter dash, as well as the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay.
Rogers says she's grateful to have experienced those moments with her entire team.
"It was really an amazing experience," Rogers told St. Joseph Post. "I had so much fun with my whole team. I really enjoyed it. It was just really amazing to come off of second place last year and win first place this year."
The Panthers finished as state runners-up last year. The state title is just the third in North Platte school history and the first for a girls' sport.
Of the 10 North Platte track athletes who competed at state last week, eight of them came away with state medals.
Lindsay Ramsay and Haley Sampson finished second and third in the 400 meter dash, Brianna DeBord placed 7th in the 3200 meter run, while the girls' 4x400 meter relay placed second as well.
"We say a lot, 'Do your job and trust your teammates to do theirs,'" North Platte coach Brendan Cary said. "That's what you really saw. These guys went out and did their jobs and trusted their teammates they would do theirs and we saw a spectacular result at the end of the day Saturday."
North Platte girls' track has now finished in the top five in the team standings at state track in each of the past five seasons.
Cary says getting that first championship this year took a lot of work for it to become reality.
"The experience was really a culmination of a lot of things over a lot of time," he said. "These girls, most of them have been in the program multiple years - from junior year and up through high school. What a great experience for them to compete on that highest level."
Cary was sure to credit his two seniors - Haley Sampson and Gracie Ramsay. Sampson ends her North Platte track career with 11 total state medals, while Ramsay is a three-time state medalist, including a gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay.
"What they did is an incredible accomplishment," Cary said. "I was so happy we could send them out on top."
North Platte athletics has been on the rise in recent years, particularly when it comes to running sports.
The girls' cross country team has finished in the top three at state in each of the last three seasons, and now girls' track has made its mark on school history.
Rogers says the team has the right blend of athleticism and work ethic, as well as strong team chemistry.
"We have really good athletes all the way around in every sport," she said. "We have really athletic people everywhere. We have a good atmosphere all of the time. We all get along really, really well. Our practices are run really well."
With the bulk of North Platte's team set to come back next season on the heels of a state championship, Cary says the standard for excellence will only get higher for his program and others.
"We use the term 'rising tide lifts all ships,'" he said. "We're better when everyone is better and I think that's what it really has done has elevated our level around here. Not just in cross country and track, but the expectations for all of us. We're here to get better, we're here to improve, we're here to be the best we can be."
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