Maize South overcomes coach's death to win state titles

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MAIZE, Kan. (KAKE) -

Maize South High School made history Saturday, by winning its first state athletic titles. But the emotions for the cross country teams went beyond simply winning trophies.

Cross country coach Alan Birdsell died in June, leaving the Maize School District with only three months to find a replacement. Officials settled on Jason Parr, who had a record of coaching track and cross country at schools in suburban Kansas City and Lexington, Kentucky. Staff members say Parr inspired the team to succeed.

But the athletes did not forget Birdsell. After winning the boys and girls state titles in Wamego, the team stopped in Hesston to meet with Becky Birdsell, the former coach's widow, and show her the trophies they won.

Parr told KAKE News Sunday a pep rally to celebrate the Maize South championships is planned Friday afternoon at the high school.