Cross country teams place in top 5 at state


Jenna Liu

[heading]Boys place second; girls take fifth place[/heading] Photo by Randi ObermillerThe sun shone hot and bright today when the Bruins left the MSHSAA cross country state championships with a second place team plaque for the boys, and a fifth place finish for the girls.
The seven members on the boys and girls varsity teams ran a 5k race across the grassy slopes of the Oak Hill golf course in Jefferson City. Seniors Evan Schulte and Zach Cook were able to finish in the top 10 for boys, while junior Sam Farmer and sophomore Marilise Stamps ended the race in 15th and 24th place, respectively.
“I couldn’t be happier with this dude right here, Zach [Cook],” said Schulte, who finished in fourth place overall. “I mean, we gave it all we had today.”
Schulte was near the front of the pack during the front stretch, and continued to hold his position among three other boys throughout the race, all whom eventually made up the top four in the  event.
Senior Noah Kauppila of Marquette was the victor with a final time of 15:22:34, 15 seconds faster than Schulte’s time of 15:37:40.
Cook was the second Bruin runner to finish, with senior Connor Crabtree 30 seconds behind him.  Junior Lucas Harrington and senior Luke Walters ended the race with only a two second difference between them. Freshman Sam Baumer finished in the middle of the pack, while sophomore Quinn Miller brought up the rear to give the Bruins a team total of 119 points.
Their score was 16 points short of defeating returning champions St. Louis University High, who had five runners place in the top 50 for the Class 4 event.
“The start was kind of rough,” Schulte said. “Connor [Crabtree] had a hurt quad we didn’t know about until after.”
The beginning of the race also necessitated a restart, as a small scuffle broke out among the runners the first time the starter pistol went off.
“Someone got shoved,” Cook said. “A bunch of our guys fell down and actually got hurt.”
Cook came in ninth place, bettering a disappointing finish at last year’s state competition. Cook and several other members of his team had contracted an untimely flu bug, which resulted in the Bruins placing ninth overall at the 2011 state championships.
The girls team maintained the same ranking as last year’s fifth place finish, with junior Sam Farmer placing 15th statewide with a time of 19:09:28. Sophomore Marilise Stamps finished eight seconds after to rank in 24th place, while junior Kayla Funkenbusch came in 30th. Nine runners separated freshman Emily Harl from senior Joanna Zhang, who finished with a time of 20:31:72. Freshman Rebecca Rubenstein and senior Maddie May were the 6th and 7th Bruins to cross the finish line, to give the team an overall score of 146 points, trailing Eureka High by 13 points.
“We did pretty well,” Farmer said. “A couple of our girls were struggling, but overall we raced hard and gave it all we could.”
Bruins cross country head coach Neal Blackburn said that he is proud of the way his runners raced, and knows how unpredictable the state competition can be.
“It’s tough, it’s never going to shake out exactly how you think it’s going to,” Coach Neal Blackburn said. “You can’t control the other teams, you can only control your own effort, and I know we had it.”
The girls’ fifth place finish caused them to narrowly miss out on a team plaque, while the boys’ final score put them on the podium with a second place award.
“We’re kind of bitter we got second,” Cook said. “We were shooting for first.”
Though the teams were hoping to finish better, Blackburn said his runners still ran a solid race.
“There’s no question the effort and the heart was there,” Blackburn said. “And at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.”
By Jenna Liu