NATCHITOCHES —Parkway junior Alison Ringle had mixed emotions after the Class 5A race Tuesday at the LHSAA Cross Country Championships.
Ringle was proud of the race she ran. Her time of 18 minutes, 12 seconds over the 3-mile NSU course was almost 1:40 better than her previous state meet times.
But it wasn’t quite good enough to get what she wanted — the state championship. Ringle finished runner-up to Fontainebleau senior Alexa Durham, who ran a 17:54.25. It was Durham’s third straight title.
It was the third time Ringle and Durham went head-to-head this season. Ringle finished ahead of Durham in the Mobile Challenge of Champions in September, and Durham and Ringle finished 1-2 in a race in Mississippi last month.
Ringle’s time would have been good enough to win any other class.
“I’m not sure exactly right now,” Ringle said when asked about how she felt about the runner-up finish. “But I ran hard, I PRed. So that’s the bright side. I still would’ve liked to win, but whatever happens, happens, I guess. There’s always next year.”
Ringle stayed with Durham for most of the race.
“I stayed with her the first couple of miles,” she said. “I broke out ahead and she just caught me.”
Ringle also finished second in the Class 4A state meet two years ago. She finished 13th last year when Parkway moved up to 5A.
Ringle and a ninth-place finish by senior Alayna Nevins helped Parkway finish third in the girls’ division, three spots better than 2011.
Parkway scored 98 points, only one more than runner-up Fontainebleau. Dominican won with 57.
Nevins ran an 18:44.27. Two years ago, she finished third in the 4A meet. Other Lady Panthers in the scoring were junior Jayni Wilcher (13th), junior Jessica McGuffee (37th) and junior Destiny McGaffey (39th).
“I’m really proud of them,” Parkway coach Kent Falting said. “I know one point is really close, but if you looked at the number of people they passed on the track, they actually made up a lot of ground. We probably could’ve got third by 12 points, so for them to cut it to one, it’s probably hard to ask them to pass one more person than the number that they passed, so I was really excited. Every girl on the team ran a personal best.”
Parkway sophomore Hayden Kingfisher proved he will be one to watch in the future with a fifth-place finish in the boys’ division. Kingfisher ran a 15:27.94. Neal Fitzpatrick of New Orleans Jesuit won in 14:54.41. Fitzpatrick was the only runner in any class to break 15 minutes.
Airline junior Jack Wilkes finished 20th in 16:06.17. Senior Matt Henry was 25th.
Falting said Kingfisher’s finish was impressive.
“Our goal was to get in the top 10, and him getting fifth is a pleasant surprise,” he said.
Parkway finished sixth for the second year in a row. The Panthers scored 194 points. West Monroe won with 60.
Senior Taylor Bazo was Parkway’s second-best finisher. He was 21st in 16:06.26.
Other Panthers in the scoring were senior Chance Vatovec (40th), senior Skylor Reese (52nd) and junior Chase Livesay (78th).
All of Parkway’s seniors ran personal bests, Falting said.
“In their last race, that’s all you can ask them to do, so I was proud of everything they did today.”