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Going the Distance: Kelsey Barrett, Britton-Hecla

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No one in the history of South Dakota class 'A' girls cross country had ever won four state championships, but at this year's state meet Britton-Hecla's Kelsey Barrett, our Taco John's Athlete of the Week, went for the unprecedented fourth title. She wound up in maybe the closest race and toughest challenge of her high school career.

"It was a tough race," Barrett says, "And all those leading five ran a really great race and we all had a really fast mile, everybody got out fast. The ending was tough, it was a good fight."

Coming down to the wire, the 3-time champion Barrett held a narrow edge over Spearfish's Savannah Childers and Garretson's Erin Nolz. When Childers tried for a charge in the final yards of the race, Barrett fought back.

"You always have to have a kick at the end of a race and when you see the finish line so close," Barrett says, "And everything you've worked for right in front of you, you kind of forget about everything else in that moment."

Barrett's last kick gave her the win by inches, with just one second separating the top three runners. Not a bad way to pick up title number four.

In the aftermath Barrett's coach, Stephanie Brandt, had to fight a battle of her own, working to get through officials to her exhausted runner.

"They wouldn't let me get in there." Brandt says, "And she wasn't getting up and they weren't getting her up and then finally I got in there and I just tried to get her to calm down a little bit and relax."

"I didn't know if I won." Barrett says, "I was like, 'Did I win? Did I win?' She was like, 'Yes! Now quit it!' She was trying to get me to breathe, and she was just happy for me."

Eventually the senior settled down, but the thrill of a race like this, of an accomplishment like this, will probably live with Barrett for quite some time.

Follow KDLT Sports at @KDLTSports and KDLT Weekend Sports Anchor Kolbe Nelson at @KolbeNelson for opinions, links, and updates on Twitter. And don't forget to check out the KDLT Sports Facebook Page
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