For the first time in six years, the Jackson cross country program had both its boys and girls teams advance to the state championship meet. The Indians even did so after being moved up to Class 5 since MSHSAA added a class this fall.
Neither team placed in the top four to come home with a state plaque on Saturday, but the boys team was able to place in the top 10 at ninth overall. Jackson’s boys finished in the top 10 back in 2014 at eighth place.
“Our seniors kept the team ready to go while the temperatures climbed — an unusual day for November — but the guys ran well,” Jackson head coach Andrea Talley said. “So much was different about the state championships just as this entire season has been very different.
“There were already many changes in place for the 2020 season even before COVID hit, so the key to this season was flexibility and the ability to adapt to new and constantly changing situations. My appreciation and admiration runs deep for all of these kids and their parents and everyone involved in our sport.”
The Indians did so in this year’s state race by having three runners finish in the top 60 as senior Evan Stephens was the first to cross the finish line. Stephens completed the state race with a time of 16 minutes, 31 seconds to take 36th overall.
Finishing 10 seconds behind Stephens was sophomore Cade McCadams, who finish in 53rd place at 16:41 as senior Jake Eastin came in two seconds later (16:43) to place 56th.
No other runner for the Jackson boys team finished the race in less than 17 minutes as the Indians next three runners placed in the top 125. Coming in fourth for Jackson was sophomore Hunter Wendel as he took 101st place with a time of 17:21.
Placing after Wendel was freshman Bryce Gentry as he produced a finish of 17:33 for a 116th-place finish to go towards Jackson’s final score of 239 points.
The final two runners to compete for Jackson’s boys team were sophomore Cole Puls and senior Clayton Greenlee, who finished in 122nd (17:35) and 151st place (18:23), respectively.
Winning the boys race was Rock Bridge by a score of 109 as the team also had the individual state champion in senior Matthew Hauser, who won the Class 5 race with a time of 15:34.
The Jackson girls placed outside of the top 10 at 13th overall out of the 16 teams competing with a score of 281. The Indians had three runners place in the top 80, but their final two that went towards the team score didn’t finish in the top 140.
Crossing the finish line first for Jackson’s girls team was none other than junior Addie Heisserer in 38th place with a time of 19:43, which is her personal record and was the same time she recorded to win an individual district title last week.
Placing only two spots behind Heisserer at 40th place was senior Elizabeth Steele as she produced a finish of 19:46. The last runner for the Jackson girls to place in the top 100 was junior Layla Fliege as she took 80th overall at 20:24.
Rounding out the top five for Jackson was junior Brooklyn Burgess and sophomore Sadie Middleton. The two finished within three places of each other but 16 seconds apart as Burgess took 143 at 21:18 followed by Middleton at 21:34.
The last two runners to compete at state for the Indians was junior Maite Mendez and sophomore Mara Wilson, who finished 151st (21:52) and 155th overall (22:02), respectively.
Winning the girls race was Lafayette with a team score of 80 as it had three runners place in the top 10. Winning the individual Class 5 State Championship was Liberty (Wentzville) junior Ally Kruger with a time of 18:03.
“For many of the runners, this was their first time ever running state competition, so I knew this would be a learning experience,” Coach Talley said. “It showed them what can be in their future if they remain focused and dedicated to their training. Both the guys and girls teams can take their experience from state and make a podium run in 2021. Lots of potential.”