HOT SPRINGS -- With only one-half mile remaining in the Class 7A girls state cross country championship, the only runner between Ali Nachtigal and the finish line was Rogers High teammate Emily Efurd.
Nachitgal shifted into a higher gear and passed Efurd with room to spare and went on the win the individual title during Friday morning's race on the Oaklawn Park infield.
"I just started passing people, then all of a sudden I'm in second place," Nachitgal said. "My teammate was up in front of me, and that's when I said I can win this. I then started passing her, and I kept going and kicking."
Nachtigal's winning time was 19 minutes, 25.1 seconds over the 5,000-meter course. Rogers Heritage's Hailey Day, another freshman, finished second at 19:32.3, while Fayetteville's senior Rebecca Boushelle was a close third at 19:33.9.
It was totally a different outcome than last week's 7A-West Conference meet, where Boushelle had the winning time, and Nachitgal was almost 40 seconds behind and took third.
"I was beating myself up mentally out there last week," Nachitgal said. "This week, I was determined that it wouldn't happen again. I'm going to work to the best of my abilities and not put any negativity in my head.
"I just went out there and stuck to the plan. I put everything out of my head, and I just went."
Fayetteville, meanwhile, earned its fifth state team championship in dominating fashion. The Lady Bulldogs had all five runners in the top 10 and compiled 37 points, followed by Rogers with 61 and Bentonville High -- which competed without defending state champion Tori Willis, who was injured -- took third with 85 points.
While Boushelle slid to third place individually, her Fayetteville teammates picked up the slack. Grace Litzinger, Morganne Browning, Taylor Owens and Aubrey Hardcastle finished sixth through 10th, respectively, as all finished within 30 seconds of each other.
"They ran as a team," Fayetteville coach Michelle Fyfe said. "They've bonded like sisters, so they weren't going to let each other down.
"One of our other girls was injured, so the other girls had to step up. It was a lot of fun to watch, and they worked like a team and ran like a pack. They all met my expectations."
Sports on 11/04/2017
Print Headline: Rogers' Nachtigal uses late push to win 7A girls title