One last hurrah! Bison relay moving even to new continents

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 ~ Updated 12:56 PM
McCook’s 3200-meter relay won state medals for a second consecutive season with seniors (left, in back) Shawna Wilkinson, Leah Spencer, (in front) sophomore Paige Bortner and junior Sienna Dutton on the Omaha Burke medal stand Wednesday afternoon. Bortner inished one spot from Wilkinson (both below) as 800-meter state medalists. Bortner finished a close ninth with her time of 2:23.38.
R.B. Headley/McCook Gazette

OMAHA, Neb. — Just think: one year from now, Sienna Dutton can yell at Omaha-like traffic with Spanish and many won’t even know if they’re offended.

“This is it for me,” McCook High junior Dutton declared as she’ll spend her senior year as an exchange student in Spain.

Dutton’s unforgettable farewell featured traffic all over the Omaha Burke Stadium track during a Class B state 3200-meter relay on Wednesday.

R.B. Headley/McCook Gazette

“The girl behind me tripped me,” sophomore Paige Bortner recalled. “But I just kept running.”

“(Baton) handoffs were chaotic. People were weaving around,” Dutton added about a race featuring all 16 Class B qualifying quartets. “I had to cut around one girl who had slowed down and not gotten off (the track).”

Craziness similar to last season when the Bison relay took a No. 14 seed into an amazing top five finish.

While there weren’t any dramatic place jumps this year, the Bison ran three seconds faster than 2022 and placed Class B top six for four more medals.

“Coming from McCook to run against Elkhorn and Omaha schools, I’d say we competed pretty well,” senior Leah Spencer said. “I’m very proud of this group. We didn’t run our best, but we got it done.”

“Finally earning my spot on this relay and running in this atmosphere,” senior Shawna Wilkinson added. “I’m very proud, very honored to be running with these young ladies.”

Wilkinson says bye-bye to Bison athletics following a stellar career that included the 2021 Class B 400-meter title.

She’ll run in Kearney starting this fall while Spencer will be even cooler with the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s swim team.

Yet don’t think one second that different schools, cities or continents will make these McCook girls lose touch.

“I’m really excited to see Paige lead these girls,” Shawna concluded. “I’d love to come back and watch in a year and see what these Bison can do."

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