Jennings leads area runners at state
On Saturday, Southwest's Jacob Jennings became the first Trojan to earn an All-State cross country medal since brothers Glen and Kyle Buttrum turned the trick back in 2005. His 19th place finish led Southwest to a 10th place team finish in the Class 1 boys race at the MSHSAA State Cross Country Championships at Jefferson City.
On a perfect day for running, individual and team championships were decided in the separate class and gender races on the traditional site of the meet, the Oak Hills Golf Center on Ellis Boulevard in Jefferson City. While the location was the same, the course was very different from what runners and coaches have come to expect over the years.
With a growing contingent of the Missouri running community clamoring to move the meet from Oak Hills to a dedicated running course that is more speed-oriented, the MSHSAA directors made drastic changes to the venue. Gone was the hilly loop that led past the clubhouse to the brink of Ellis Boulevard. Gone was the treacherous steep gully at the foot of the final downhill. There were other significant changes, the sum of which added up to much faster times.
Class 1 Boys
Joplin's College Heights Christian won another title in Class 1 boys. Defending champion Caleb Hoover won again in 16:09 and teammate Trenton Morris charged to a second place finish to help the Cougars hold off a strong Linn team, 80-84. Sparta, which earned the District 5 title at Washburn last week, was third and Humansville was fourth.
Southwest's Trojans were 10th with Jennings spearheading the effort with his 17:35 run to 19th. Cristian Sellars was 58th, Kyle Miller was 59th, James Pettit was 95th, Evan Jermain was 136th, and Justin Pettit was 153rd to complete the Southwest entry.
Purdy's freshman Andrew McCormick placed 70th in the field, and Wheaton's Jonathan Sherwood finished in 100th position.
Class 1 Girls
Perennial powerhouse Penney-Hamilton graduated to Class 2 this season, leaving the Class 1 girls team race wide open. Russellville triumphed over Midway, 110-111, to win the team title. College Heights and Marion County placed third and fourth respectively.
Midway junior McKenzie Weis won the individual crown, clocking 19:24.91.
The Wheaton Lady Bulldogs, champions of District 5, were 15th in the 16-team field. Chase Burns led Wheaton with her 37th place finish, followed by BreAnn Brattin (91st), Shannon Burns (98th), Samantha Etzler (127th) and Shirley Galvan (149th).
Southwest senior Cheyenne Hackett, who just hoped to qualify a week ago, went out in style with a strong run for 58th place. Purdy's Audrey Patton took 61st.
Herculaneum, Strafford, St. Pius X (KC) and Bowling Green earned the trophies in the Class 2 boys race. Drew Keefer, of St. Pius, led all finishers with his 16:07 time.
The Lady Irish of Springfield Catholic captured the Class 2 girls crown, upsetting Herculaneum, 49-68. Lawson and Lutheran (St. Peters) finished third and fourth.
Lutheran's Courtney Rogers won in 19:06.2.
Kearney, Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau), Ladue Horton Watkins and St. Dominic took the trophies in the Class 3 girls division. Emma Burditt, of Hannibal, won the individual title in 19:04.95.
McDonald County of the Big 8 Conference struggled to 16th as a team after holding off Cassville to earn a trip to state last week.
Cassville's duo of Jessica Barrientos and Deborah Kern finished in 68th and 82nd, respectively in the Class 3 girls race. Barrientos, a senior, ran 21:31.59 in her final cross country race as a Ladycat.
Monett's Hannah Martin and Madeleine Weber placed 84th and 102nd respectively.
Ladue Horton Watkins, Festus, Westminster Christina Academy and McDonald County earned the trophies in the Class 3 boys race. Daniel Everett, of Westminster, ran 15:52.13 to win the race. Mac County's Jordan Noffsinger placed 13th to help the Mustangs claim their first state trophy in cross country.
Monett's Chris Renteria narrowly missed a medal, finishing 27th, and Juan Renteria finished 120th.
Lee's Summit North, Rock Bridge, St. Louis University High and West Plains took the top four spots in the Class 4 boys race. Branson was ninth and Carthage finished 14th in the field.
Rockhurst's Zach Herriott turned in the fastest time of the day to claim the gold medal, covering the 5,000-meter course in 15:30.55.
The Class 4 girls trophies went to Lee's Summit West, West Plains, St. Joseph's Academy and Lee's Summit North. The Nixa Lady Eagles finished 16th.
Samantha Nightingale, of Blue Springs South, won a much anticipated battle against Neosho's super duo of Courtney Wood and Jessica Jackson.
Nightingale was the only girl to crack the 18-minute barrier all day, running 17:59.64. Jackson surged to second and Wood took fifth.