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Cross Country

Area cross country teams and runners qualify for state

The Jackson boys cross country team won the Class 5 District 1 Championship this past weekend. Submitted photo

On Saturday, Jackson and Notre Dame’s boys cross country teams both qualified for their respective state championship meets. The Indians won the Class 5 District 1 title, while the Bulldogs took fourth in the Class 3 District 1 meet.

Oak Ridge’s boys and girls cross country teams also qualified for the Class 1 State Meet by taking second in District 1.

Jackson won its first district championship since 2020 in dominant fashion with a team score of 35 as second place was Saint Louis with 73 points.

Four Indians placed in the top 10 to bring home individual all-district medals as senior Hunter Wendel and junior Bryce Gentry both placed in the top five. Wendel finished third overall with a time of 16 minutes, 0.2 seconds, while Gentry was behind him in fourth place at 16:02.2.

Also earning all-district honors for Jackson were seniors Cole Puls and Cade McCadams, who placed sixth and 10th overall with times of 16:13.9 and 16:26.1, respectively.

Even though the Indians qualified for state as a team, two more runners still finished in the top 30, which was the cutoff for individuals to qualifty. Senior Evan Kiefer took 12th at 16:27.1, while junior Zach Brazel finished 29th with a 16:51.8.

As for Notre Dame, the Bulldogs had six runners place in the top 30 with only one earning all-district, which was senior Mason Morris. He took fourth overall with a time of 16:26.73.

Notre Dame sophomore Michael Givens and senior Thomas Dittmer finished in the top 20 as Givens took 18th place (17:31.76) and Dittmer 19th (17:32.98).

Oak Ridge’s boys team finished 10 points behind Class 1 District 1 Champion Van Buren to move on to state. The Blue Jays had three all-district medalists in junior Brock Hobeck (third place; 17:00.09), sophomore Grant Meyer (eighth; 17:37.87) and junior Ty Wilson (10th; 17:48.8).

While Oak Ridge’s girls team had no individual all-district honorees, the Blue Jays had three of their runners finish in the top 30. Junior Kendall Marshall finished in 17th place (22:41.99), while sophomore Hailey Ward and freshman Colbi Mool took 26th and 27th by crossing the finish line at 23:10.86 and 23:17.23, respectively.

Moving on to the teams that had runners qualify, the Notre Dame girls raced in Class 4 District 1 instead of Class 3 due to MSHSAA’s championship success factor that is only for private schools. The Bulldogs placed eighth overall, but they had two runners qualify for state.

The first Bulldog punching her ticket to state was none other than this year’s SEMO Conference Champion junior Lauren Eftink, who took second in districts at 19:15.3 (personal record). This is the third-straight season Eftink has earned all-district, and she has hopes of placing higher at state after taking 22nd last year.

Also running at the Class 4 State Meet for Notre Dame with Eftink will be senior Molly Turner as she became a first-time state qualifier by taking 15th place with a time of 20:08.2. Tuner improved her time from last year’s district meet by nearly two and a half minutes.

As for Jackon’s girls team, the Indians finished two spots outside of qualifying at sixth place. Jackson did have two runners qualify individual, though, as freshman Emma Niedbalski placed 18th overall (20:12.4) and senior London Popp was 30th (20:37.4).

Saxony Lutheran only had one runner from both its boys and girls program qualify for the Class 2 State Meet, which was sophomore Myra Roth. She also earned all-district by placing seventh overall with a time of 21:18.43.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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