Prince of Peace was able to break a few year absence from the state meet in Fort Dodge in the 2017 season when Payton Schnier qualified. They decided to keep that streak going this time.

Two underclassman girls qualified for the Irish when they ran at districts last Thursday. Freshman Kaelyn Goodsman and sophomore Sophie Griffin left on Friday afternoon to head to Kennedy Park.

“Kaelyn, she started the year a little slow but picked it up towards the middle of the season and was peaking at the right time,” Irish coach Owen Howard said. “Sophie was pretty consistent all year, and got her times to drop near the end of the year.

“Most days, they will push themselves and try to be up with the boys.”

Both are making their first trip out there. For Goodsman, the freshman jitters are gone after realizing she qualified at the district meet.

“Sophie and I were in 20th or so and we kind of number off people as we go,” Goodsman said. Goodsman finished 8th at districts, less than half a second behind Griffin. “When I crossed the finish line, or even the last 400, it felt good knowing that I was going to get to state. It was an exciting moment.”

Plus, it’s always nice when you don’t have to make the trip alone.

“I would be really nervous without her,” Goodsman said. “We talked about being in the top 50. We can do that if we keep pushing each other like we usually do during the race. The whole thing is just really exciting.”

Griffin is also making her inaugural trip as an athlete, although not her first to the location. She went last year to watch teammate Payton Schnier, and watched her sister Audrey Griffin compete in four different state meets.

“I think it’s going to feel like I’m not two years old anymore watching her do everything,” Griffin said. “It feels like I’ve accomplished everything I need to.”

She’s also excited to not be running alone.

“I feel like if it was just me, I’d feel alone on the course,” Griffin said. “We’re going to run together like we have all season and I’ll be better with her running with me.”

Not that they’re heading out alone. Both have family and friends making the four hour trek to the meet on Saturday. In fact, the girls team dyed their hair tips pink in solidarity with the state qualifiers.

“IT’s a team bonding thing,” Griffin said. “The girls who ran districts are doing it as well, so they’re still supporting us.”

She says when she’s running she doesn’t hear much, except for one voice.

“I won’t hear much of Owen’s voice, I won’t hear anyone else, but I’ll hear my dad’s voice,” Griffin said.

Both girls are hoping that the state appearance, along with the pep assembly Prince of Peace held to send the two off, will encourage more people to join the sport.

The Irish finished fourth as a team this year, and want to see that trend continue.

“I would love to get an entire girls’ team to state,” Griffin said. “I really want to add a year up to the banner in the gym.”