Runners will take their marks for one final time in the MSHSAA fall cross country season Saturday.
The final races take place at Gans Creek Recreational Area in Columbia during the MSHSAA state championships.
The race schedule will begin with Class 1 boys at 9 a.m., followed by the Class 2 boys at 9:35 a.m., the Class 1 girls at 10:10 a.m. and the Class 2 girls at 10:50 a.m.
The Class 3 girls will kick off the second half of the schedule at 11:30 a.m., with the Class 4 boys running next at 12:05 p.m., then the Class 3 boys at 12:35 p.m. and finally the Class 4 girls at 1:05 p.m.
Award presentations for each class are loosely scheduled for approximately 30 minutes after the beginning of the final race from that class.
The event moves to Gans Creek for the first time this season after long being hosted at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.
The new course is flatter and faster than the previous state meets. It features a 500-meter starting shoot, an irrigated grass running surface and permanent structures for course checkpoints as well as at the start and finish lines.
For spectators, there is an elevated viewing area that will offer a more open look at the course without moving from point to point.
The course has already been home to a couple of events back in September, including the Gans Creek Classic, which was a high school race, and two University of Missouri collegiate races.
The event Saturday will feature a free shuttle to the course with multiple buses running continually from 7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Visit MSHSAA.org for more shuttle information.
When it comes to who is running in the races, the Washington girls have qualified as an entire team in Class 4, as have the Pacific and Owensville boys and the St. Francis Borgia Regional and Owensville girls in Class 3.
Washington, Borgia, Union, Pacific, St. Clair, New Haven, Sullivan and the Fulton School at St. Albans all have individual runners competing as well.
Washington is the only area school competing in Class 4.
Senior Noah Little is the team’s only boys representative running Saturday in the 12:05 p.m. race.
After narrowly missing the state cut in the sectional round the last two years, Little finished in the middle of the pack for qualifying runners in Class 4 Section 2 this year, placing 15th.
While competing at the state cross country meet for the first time this year, Little is a defending state medalist in the 3,200-meter race during the spring track and field season.
For the Lady Jays, the whole team is running at state for the fourth time in the last five years. Washington’s girls climbed as high as third in the state in 2016.
The Lady Jays are led by a trio of runners in juniors Mia Reed and Jessie Donnelly and freshman Julia Donnelly, who together all placed in the top four spots in Class 4 District 3 and all three placed in the top 10 in Class 4 Section 2.
Reed and the older Donnelly were both individual state qualifiers for the Lady Jays in 2018 and Reed is a returning medalist, finishing 24th last year.
If the Lady Jays can run their best race, they’re capable of contending for another state trophy.
Class 3 Boys
The Indians posted 76 points to win the Class 3 District 5 race at Big Driver in Washington last Saturday.
Pacific finished as the runner-up to Borgia in each of the past two seasons.
Borgia might have been able to contend for another district title this season if it had been able to field two more boys runners in the district.
Borgia fielded just three runners in the district race, but all three placed in the top 15 to qualify for the state race.
Borgia senior Ben Juengling was the individual district champion with teammates Drew Snider and Nicholas Weber placing 12th and 13th, respectively.
Pacific’s top runner was Collin Haley, who finished seventh. The Indians had three other runners finish in the top 15 at district — Ben Brunjes (11th), Nick Hunkins (14th) and Dylan Mooney (15th).
The No. 3 finisher in the district was Sullivan’s Isiah Huskey, the only male runner moving on for the Eagles.
St. Clair and Union have one runner advancing each. For the Bulldogs, it’s sophomore Case Busse, who finished fifth in the district race. Dominic Beine was the qualifier for the Wildcats, placing eighth.
Owensville’s Austin Terry (fourth) and Bam Wizeman (ninth) were the only Dutchmen to take home all-district honors. The 83 points Owensville posted missed the district title by just seven places, but is good enough to give the whole team another shot to run on Saturday.
Class 3 Girls
In Class 3 girls, Owensville own the district by a sizeable margin, but Borgia narrowly edged Pacific by one point for the right to advance its full team to the state finals.
The Dutchgirls had just three runners finish in the top 15 at the district meet, but those three all finished in the top four, including individual champion Mekayla Gibson.
The Lady Knights placed their top three runners close together between 10th and 14th place. All three edged out a Pacific runner for those spots to help move the team through the round.
For Borgia, all-district runners included senior Sarah Matt (10th place), sophomore Callyn Weber (13th) and senior Grace Turilli (14th).
For Pacific, two runners made it through the district round and will be representing the Lady Indians at the state meet — sophomore Katie Prada and freshman Amber Graf.
Prada is a returning state qualifier from 2018.
Union sophomore Ella Coppinger and Anna Brakefield both made the state cut, finishing sixth and seventh in the district, respectively.
Sullivan freshman Emily Willman placed eighth to advance.
Following one spot behind Willman was St. Clair freshman Hanna Spoon, who is also moving on.
The Hermann Bearcats will be running their entire boys team in the 9:35 a.m. race, led by Class 2 District 4 individual champion Dalton Gleeson.
The Bearcats were the runners-up in the district, finishing nine points behind Fatima. New Haven placed fourth.
Carter Hemeyer (third place), Jake Weber (eighth) and Brayden Brown (13th) also earned all-district honors for the Bearcats.
Just two years removed from a Class 1 state championship, but having been moved up to Class 2 for the past two seasons, the New Haven boys are sending through just one runner to state this year.
That runner is senior Austin Tegeler, who ran with the Shamrocks to a third-place finish in Class 2 in 2018. He was also a part of the 2017 Class 1 championship team as a sophomore.
While Hermann did not advance its full girls roster to the state meet, finishing third in the team standings, the Lady Bearcats were led by another individual district champion — sophomore Morgan Miller.
Hermann ended up having three qualifiers for the state race. Following Miller were sophomore Clara Scheible (ninth place) and freshman Katy Menke (10th).
New Haven has another solo individual representative in the girls race — junior Emma McIntyre.
McIntyre is a two-time state medalist, having finished fifth in Class 1 in 2017, which helped lead the Lady Shamrocks to a second-place team finish, and 16th in Class 2 in 2018.
The Fulton School at St. Albans has the lone area representative in any Class 1 race.
Junior Jace Cavness is making his third state trip after taking the individual district championship in Class 1 District 2 at Lutheran North this past Saturday.
Cavness is a returning state medalist after finishing 23rd in 2018.