By BRETT MARSHALL
Greg Cook has never seen in person the award-winning musical "Man of La Mancha" which debuted in 1972.
But the Greeley County boys and girls cross country coach could certainly grasp the concept of the famous song from that musical, "The Impossible Dream," of which the lyrics were written by Joe Darion and composed by Mitch Leigh.
"To run where the brave dare not go."
For that is what it felt like to Cook and his Jackrabbits' boys' cross country team on Oct. 31 when they pulled off the biggest upset in cross country by dethroning defending champion and highly-favored Ness City, 24-25, to capture the Class 1A state championship at Wamego Country Club.
To top it off, Cook's girl's team garnered their second consecutive 1A title and the double-your-pleasure accomplishment was enough to earn Cook The Telegram's All-Area Fall Sports Coach of the Year Award. He had shared the honor with Holcomb's Lindall Cox a year ago.
"To reach the unreachable star."
"It really does feel something like an impossible dream," Cook said of the double championships, especially the boys' stunning victory over the previously unbeaten Eagles. "I think I felt like the girls stood a better chance because we knew what Ness City's boys had. At the beginning of the season it was like, 'We're out here to run and just pick up the pieces behind Ness.'"
But things changed for the Jackrabbits in their pursuit of the Eagles. When they came within two points of catching them at the 1A regionals in Wheatland/Grinnell, Cook knew that there was a possibility for an upset.
"This is my quest, to follow that star."
"By all means, the upset for the boys made this year special — both are unbelievable," Cook said when reflecting back. "It's been a season-long progression and our young kids performed so well at state. It's amazing that a few feet at the finish line made such a difference."
For his girls, the victory was the third in four years for the Lady Jackrabbits. Senior Madison Moser was a member on each of those championship teams.
"We've had great leadership from our seniors," Cook said of Moser and Isaac Wilson, both of whom placed third at the state meet. "They've set great examples for the younger runners and there's a legacy they've left."
"No matter how hopeless, no matter how far."
It was the Jackrabbits' fifth runner, which didn't count in the actual team points, that catapulted them to the boys title by the narrowest of margins. "We had talked all along about getting one of our runners in the pack to finish ahead of their runner and that might make the difference," Cook said. "It turned out that is exactly what happened."
"To dream, the impossible dream."
For Cook and the Jackrabbits, it became possible.