The Helias Lady Crusaders haven't qualified as a team for the Class 3 cross country championships since 2006.
Today, they want to make up for lost time.
"We've got this great team unity thing going," Helias coach Mary Haskamp said as the Lady Crusaders prepared for the 9:35 a.m. race at the Oak Hills Golf Center. "We've had a great pack attack all season. We run with our teammates, we need to run together as much as possible."
That "pack attack" could bring a state trophy. The difference between the first and fifth runners this season for the Lady Crusaders has consistently been around a minute.
In winning the district title last Saturday in Mexico, the seven Helias runners finished in a group of 17 individuals.
"If we can be in that one-minute pack and finish in the top 50, we could be in the chase for a trophy," Haskamp said. "Or we could end up in the top eight teams and I would be very happy because we're so young."
The youth of the team is a wild card. Helias has just two state veterans in senior Maria Backes and sophomore Joni Reinkemeyer. Reinkemeyer finished sixth at districts, with Backes finishing 10th. A pair of freshmen - Amanda Patino and Ali Boudreau - were 12th and 13th, respectively. Sophomores Sarah Wieberg (17th) and Suzie Ahlvers (20th) and junior Jenna Oldham (22nd) round out the squad.