The Class 3 girls podium at the state cross country finals eluded Franklin County runners this year, but for how much longer?
Every runner from the county to qualify for the race has at least one more year of eligibility left and the majority of the county representatives this year are freshmen.
The team title Saturday at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City went to Bolivar, which scored 77 points. Also on the podium in the team standings were Festus (94), Smithville (114) and De Soto (133).
Owensville’s Dutchgirls finished sixth with 166 points, led by junior Sophia Ashner, who finished eighth in 20:16.87.
On the individual podium, O’Fallon Christian’s Mercedes Schroer led all finishers with the best time of 19:36.26.
Pacific freshman Katie Prada was the top finisher out of Franklin County, finishing 34th overall with a time of 21:23.24.
“She’s just a tremendous kid,” Pacific Head Coach Justin Perriguey said. “If you look at the ranking online and such, she was ranked about 50th going into the race today, so finishing in the mid-30s was a moral victory. You’re always fighting for that medal and that podium spot, but anything above expectations is always awesome.”
Prada moved up 13 positions between the end of the second mile and finish of the 3.1-mile race.
Union freshman Ella Coppinger finished just two places behind Prada in 36th with her time of 21:24.99.
“Ella placing 36th puts her in a good position to vie for all-state recognition if she keeps improving the way that she has,” Union Head Coach Sarah Meiners said.
Second-year qualifier from St. Clair, sophomore Arin Halmich, finished the race in 86th place in 22:26.73.
Halmich dropped nearly 40 seconds off her time on the same course from 2017 and moved up nearly 50 places overall.
“Arin Halmich ran great,” St. Clair Head Coach Ben Martin said. “It was the best start to a race she has gotten all year. She then moved up 10 more spots after the first mile. For the course being slick, she ran 37 seconds faster than last year and 47 places better. Arin has ran well all year. She’s just a great kid, straight-A student, stays out of trouble. We love having her on the team. She works hard every day at practice and has a lot of talent. With some summer running, we hope to for her to be competing for a state medal before she graduates.”
Borgia junior Sarah Matt finished 109th in 23:00.34 in her first year on the state course.
“I thought Sarah Matt ran a very strong race,” Borgia Head Coach Mitch Figas said. “She got off to a smart start and I thought she moved through the pack very well. Sarah proved herself to be a very strong mental competitor all year and I am looking forward to her senior season.”
Pacific had two other runners qualify for the race, both freshmen.
Riley Vaughn completed the race in 111th place in 23:02.85 and Aubrey Harris finished 138th in 23:58.2.
“Riley and Aubrey are tremendous kids as well,” Perriguey said. “They’ve put in a tremendous amount of work, all three of those girls and Jenna Anding (sophomore). They all run together in practice every single day. It’s a really tight-knit group of girls. To see the three young ones make it here, I think we’ve got a bright future ahead for the girls.”
In total, each of the top six Class 3 girls finishers was either a freshman or a sophomore and just two of the runners in the top 10 were seniors.