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CULVER â€” In some ways, it was a culmination. In others, it provided a perfect symbol.
Culver Girls Academyâ€™s Waverly Neer survived the second-closest battle in Indiana girls cross country history by edging out Bloomington Southâ€™s Nicole Lucas by .7 of a second to win the 30th annual Girls State Cross Country Championship at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute and claim the state title that had eluded her through three years of running with the Eagles.
While she preferred to give credit first to her teammates and CGA head cross country and track coach Michael Chastain, Neer said that her disappointments at both the track and cross country state championships each of the past two seasons, and in particular her second-place finish in the 1600-meter run at last yearâ€™s state track and field finals â€” where she had placed runner-up in both the 3200 and 1600 runs the previous season â€” provided extra incentive for her senior season.
â€śI just really wanted to win,â€ť said Neer. â€śIâ€™ll be really honest with you â€” it really hurt after the state meet last year in cross country and this year in track always wanting to win that state championship, and it was hard for me to get second again in track. It was kind of a do-or-die mentality. I knew if I just gave it all I had this season and not let any outside distractions get to me I would finally be able to achieve what I wanted to do, and I guess I felt like I had one last opportunity.â€ť