Cross country falls short of their goal

Cross+country+falls+short+of+their+goal

Harsh Singh

Going into Saturday’s Missouri State Cross Country Championships, the top ranked Rock Bridge boys cross country team had aspirations of capturing their second state title in three years while the 2nd ranked girls team was looking to capture their first team title in school history.  Despite of some tremendous performances turned in by both the boys and the girls, both squads ultimately fell short of their goals.  The boys finishing 2nd by 16 points to St. Louis University High School, and the girls 5th, one spot shy of earning a team trophy.

The Class 4 boys race went out fast, with Rock Bridge senior Evan Schulte joining Marquette’s Noah Kauppila, Blue Springs’ Stephen Mugeche and Glendale’s Spencer Haik to form a pack of four that quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Bruins senior Zach Cook settled into the 2nd pack to put the Bruins in good initial position.  As the race progressed, Schulte briefly surged into the lead near the 2 mile mark but couldn’t sustain it and dropped back to third behind Kauppila and Mugeche.  From there Kauppila pulled away from the rest of the field and cruised to a State record of 15:22 to capture the individual championship.  Mugeche came in 2nd in 15:34 while Haik outkicked Schulte for third leaving the Bruin senior to settle for fourth, both runners posting times of 15:37.  Not far behind was Cook who finished strong to take ninth.  Following him for the Bruins was Senior Connor Crabtree and Junior Lucas Harrington who finished 39th and 59th respectively.  Senior Luke Walters rounded out the scoring five placing 62nd.  The Bruins finished with 119 points, but  SLUH scored 103 to win.

“I was kind of upset getting second because I wanted to go out with a bang my senior year,” Schulte said. “We had the team to win it, it just didn’t happen.”

Although Schulte’s fourth place time of 15:37 would have won the past two years, he still felt he could have done more. “I didn’t feel very good during the race and probably would have finished higher on a normal day but that’s the state meet,” Schulte said.

After the disappointing results from the boys it was the girls turn to take their shot at the title.  The race started well with each member of the team establishing their positions.  With one mile to go the Bruins were trailing only Francis Howell for first place.  However they couldn’t hold on and slipped down to fifth and off the podium over the final 1600 meters.  Junior Sam Farmer was the top finisher for the Bruins claiming 15th place.  Following Farmer was Sophomore Marilise Stamps and Junior Kayla Funkenbusch in 24th and 30th respectively.  Senior Joanna Zhang and Sophomore Emily Harl rounded out the scoring five in 75th and 85th to complete the total of 146 points, 13 behind Eureka for fourth place.

“It sucks getting fifth because you’re so close to a trophy but not quite there,” Farmer said.  “A couple of our girls had rough days with health stuff but I know that we could’ve easily been up there if we were healthy.”

Despite the disappointment this year,  the Lady Bruins return their top four runners next year and their sixth, Freshman Rebecca Rubenstein, and are well positioned for a run next year. “I feel really good about next year because not a lot of teams can bring back that many runners,” Farmer said.  “I know we will keep improving and have a shot at a championship next year.”

Although the season is over for most, Schulte will attempt to qualify for Nike Nationals at the Nike Midwest Regional Next Sunday in Terre Haute, Indiana.