Climax Springs freshmen Paige Orr and Abigale Wolfe were admittedly a little nervous ahead of the Class 1 girls’ race on Saturday.

The freshmen duo were running their first state race and representing the Cougars for the first time ever at the toughest cross country meet Missouri has to offer. However, once they got settled in, they got to work and Wolfe finished 89th out of 154 runners with a time of 24:29 on the 3.1 mile course while Orr took 148th at 28:57 respectively.

“I was excited and nervous, but I just pushed myself through it I guess,” Orr said. “You just had yo run your own race.”

“I was really excited and a little nervous, but once the gun went off it was just running,” added Wolfe. “You just had to keep your pace and not let the other runners beat you.”

Climax Springs coach Tim Thebeau certainly liked what he saw from the freshmen on Saturday and noted that it could serve as a great building-block for the rest of their careers.

“I think they did great considering that I’m sure they were overwhelmed with all the multitudes of people that were here. They ran about the times where they should have been so it was good,” he said. “They just have to build upon this for the next couple of years and hopefully they’ll move up towards the front.

“I’m just very happy right now and very proud of them,” the coach added.

Establishing the experience of competing at state, it can certainly help the next time around.

“I think it will do wonders. It won’t be overwhelming next year knowing what to expect and I think since they know the course and what it is going to be like, they’ll practice harder on those hills they don’t like to run,” the coach said with a smile. “I think they’ll do a good job and they learned a lot.”

Another thing that may have eased some of the nerves for the freshmen was the support they received. A pep rally was held at the school for the two runners before Friday’s trip to Jefferson City and there were plenty of Climax Springs fans on hand with signs offering support and encouragement at the course.

“Tremendous support,” Thebeau pointed out. “This is the first time the school has had anybody at state in quite a few years and to have a new sport and new kids, I think it will draw a lot of interest and excitement throughout the school.”

Both Orr and Wolfe said they enjoyed the opportunity of representing their school and the pair are already looking forward to preparing for next year to return to Jefferson City. Meanwhile, Thebeau is looking to make the program even stronger so more Cougars can earn a spot in the biggest race of the year.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully getting enough girls interested in having a full team. I almost had a full team of boys this year with four so hopefully we’ll get some interest,” he said. “One of them was here today to watch so hopefully he’ll know what to expect next year when he practices a little bit harder to get here.”

Qualifying two runners to the state meet is certainly a good way to make that happen.