Martin, Lady Panthers win 7-3A title; Lady Jackets advance

By Reece Waddell | Published Thursday, October 11, 2018.
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Returning less than half of their region-qualifying team from 2017, the Paradise Lady Panthers knew they had their work cut out for them this year.

When they lost another member of their team, senior Maddie Mitschke, to a torn ACL over the summer, the Lady Panthers never blinked.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

“They’ve been through a lot,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “We knew coming in it was going to be tough, but they never quit, and they never gave in.”

Thursday at the District 7-3A championships, Paradise’s resiliency paid off.

Behind a first-place finish from senior Kaycee Martin and second-place finish from sophomore Jana Messenger, the Lady Panthers took home the 7-3A title by a slim one-point margin. Paradise tallied 54 points, while second-place Brock had 55.

“What heart,” Essig said. “They did everything they could for their team. Kaycee ran her best race today — they all ran their best race today. And it took it. We won by one point.”

Entering the final mile, Martin and Messenger began to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Then in the home stretch, Martin slowly pulled away from her teammate to take home the league championship.

Martin posted a 12:45.39. Messenger clocked a 12:54.03.

“It was pretty tough,” Martin said. “I felt like I ran good. I tried to relax, and every 800 [meters] I tried to surge.

“I’m proud of this whole team. I had a rough start to the season, and thought it was time to step up. It feels great.”

Martin and Messenger held off Boyd’s Mary Miller and Tania Ramirez, who finished third and fourth.

Miller ran a 13:02.42 while Ramirez finished in 13:03.16. The Lady Jackets took third overall as a team with 60 points, qualifying for regionals for the first time since 2010.

“The girls ran well,” said Boyd coach Oscar Hernandez. “Our top three ran really well. It was a six-point swing. I told them every place matters. Hats off to Paradise. Their first two girls ran fantastic.”


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