KEARNEY – Danie Parriott’s name was posted on one of Conestoga High School’s brick walls this past week to wish her good luck at the state cross country meet.
Her photo will soon be going on the school’s brick Wall of Fame for winning a state championship.
Parriott earned the Class C girls state title with a first-place performance Friday afternoon at Kearney Country Club. She crossed the finish line with a personal-best time of 19:40.44. Malcolm senior Logan Thomas (19:49.93) and Boone Central/Newman Grove junior Jordan Soto-Stopak (19:56.37) were second and third.
Parriott said she was thrilled with her effort on the hilly course. She became the second runner in Conestoga history to claim a state cross country championship. Kari Shields won the Class C title for the Cougars in 1988.
“I’m so happy right now,” Parriott said. “It feels really good.”
Parriott entered the state race with a positive mindset after winning the District C-1 championship the week before. Parriott earned the district title in a field that included several decorated runners. Wahoo’s Zoe Christenson placed fifth in Friday’s state meet and DC West’s Madison Wilt was ninth.
“Winning districts was big coming into this,” Parriott said. “There were a lot of good girls at districts like Zoe and Madison, so to know that I was able to beat them there gave me a lot of confidence today.”
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Parriott said she began the race with a goal of moving near the top of the pack by the first mile. She met that target by bursting ahead of a group that included Thomas, Soto-Stopak and Kearney Catholic’s Grace Oberg. Parriott took the lead as she made her way past a large crowd on the course.
“I knew I had a good start and that helped a lot,” Parriott said. “It helped me realize that it was possible to win this.”
Parriott increased the distance between her closest competitors during the second mile, and she maintained that gap in the final stretch. She and other runners had to navigate around a downhill portion of the course before beginning the final 500 meters. Parriott said her lone thought was keeping a healthy speed as she approached the tape.
“When I hit that final hill I knew I had to keep going because I thought the other girls were right behind me,” Parriott said. “I didn’t want to relax until I got to the finish line.”
Thomas gave the East Central Nebraska Conference a one-two result with her silver medal. The Malcolm veteran also finished second to Parriott at the league meet in early October.
Parriott said she was grateful for the support from CHS students who traveled to Kearney to watch her and senior Bella Hogue. Forty students hopped on a school bus to make the trip to state. They congratulated both runners with hugs and smiles after Parriott’s championship performance.
“To have this many people here is great,” Parriott said. “It’s been a really good day.”