Rodgers, Ford earn all-state medals

Theo Tate

Lyric Ford, left, and Malia Rodgers, right, of Montgomery County compete in the second mile of the Class 3 state cross country championship meet on Nov. 5 at Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia. Rodgers placed 13th and Ford came in 23rd to earn all-state honors. THEO TATE PHOTO

Malia Rodgers and Lyric Ford of Montgomery County brought home some more medals on Nov. 5.

This time, they were all-state medals.

Rodgers, a freshman, placed 13th with a 20:25 and Ford, a sophomore, came in 23rd with a 20:55 in the Class 3 girls state cross country meet at Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia, making it the first time the MCHS girls cross country team had two all-state medalists in the same year.

After the race, MCHS coach Chasity Rodgers got to put the medals around the necks of both runners at the awards podium.

“That’s a pretty neat experience to do something like that,” Chasity said.

Ford and Malia Rodgers earned medals in all eight races this season. They also received medals in the New Haven, Linn, Gans Creek, North Callaway, Orchard Farm, Eastern Missouri Conference and District 3 meets. The two runners now have a combined 25 medals.

“I am proud of those two all-state athletes,” Chasity Rodgers said.

Malia Rodgers said she was thrilled to earn a medal in her first state cross country race. She was one of nine freshmen earning all-state honors.

“It was great,” Malia said. “There was excitement beforehand. There were a lot of nerves, but it’s pretty exciting.”

Malia dedicated her race to her aunt, who is battling breast cancer.

“I had this pink ribbon in my hair and a pink bracelet,” the freshman said. “So everytime I would be in pain, I would think about her. She was doing her radiation therapy at the same time I was running today.”

This fall, Malia had a first-place finish at the Orchard Farm Invitational and finished second in the Gans Creek, North Callaway and the EMO meets. She said she enjoyed her first high school cross country season.

“It was really fun,” Malia said. “It was really competitive.”

Ford earned her second all-state medal. A year ago, she placed eighth in the Class 2 state meet to become the first MCHS girl to receive all-state notice.

The sophomore said she was happy to have Malia Rodgers join her at the awards podium this year.

“I’m really hoping that we continue to get more girls and boys getting a medal,” Ford said. “Having two instead of one this year is phenomenal, but it could be way better if we get two more, possibly get three more.”

Ford, who won four races this season, was in the top five after the first mile before she started to drop in the second mile.

“Honestly, the truth be told, as soon as we hit the two-mile mark I thought I was not going to medal,” Ford said. “It really freaked me out.”

Three other Montgomery County runners competed at state. Sophomore Destiny Shaw finished 80th with a 22:43 in the girls race. In the boys race, senior Connor Galarza placed 58th with an 18:10 and junior Dawson McCown didn’t finish.

McCown, who competed at state for the second straight year, was in the top 25 after the first two miles at the state meet before he collapsed.

“It’s part of racing to have those ups and downs,” Chasity Rodgers said. “I thought Dawson had a fantastic year. I think that one race will not define him.”

Galarza said he was pleased with the support from the Montgomery City community at the state meet.

“I really liked having to see the support of cross country and our team just grow throughout our whole entire community and our entire town,” said Galarza, who competed at state for the third year in a row. “We get hundreds of comments on Facebook posts. We get a lot of people come out here when they usually don’t. It feels really good to see those people knowing that they’re behind your back, push you and want you to succeed.”

Shaw made her first state appearance this year.



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