The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Girls’ and boys’ cross country teams place second, third at state


A countdown in the distance, the white paint marking the starting line, a vast field of open land over 75 yards wide and restless runners warming up to quell their nerves may prove intimidating for first time competitors.

The boys’ and girls’ cross country teams, however, were ready to avenge their 15th and 5th place team finishes from last year’s state meet. They were not nervous and were ready to run for a title. When the starter raised his arms and pulled the trigger, they were off when a loud boom signaled the start of the Class 4 State Championship at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia, Mo.

The seven boys on the varsity team ran at 12:05 p.m., the girls at 1:05. In a field of 16 teams and 170 individuals, the boys pulled away with an overall third place finish with 125 points, and the girls took home second with 112 points, only three points off the winner, Lee’s Summit West High School. 

Freshman Carolyn Ford stands alone at the top of the podium after receiving her first place recognition at the state championship. Photo courtesy of RBHS cross country parents.

Coach Neal Blackburn is proud of his teams’ performances and said it was difficult to do what they accomplished yesterday.

“The course ran well,” Blackburn said. “It was a harder surface which elicits faster times, and it rolls well without a lot of momentum breakers.” 

This year marked the first time the state championship was in Columbia. Jefferson City hosted the meet at Oak Hills Golf Course since 1976. Gans Creek was created to be a championship-level course designed to host major cross country competitive events. Earlier this season, the course held its inaugural Gans Creek Classic, accommodating 341 high school teams.

Missouri MileSplit, the leading website for coverage of high school cross country and track and field in Missouri, predicted freshman Carolyn Ford to be a heavy favorite for the individual championship title. Likewise, Missouri MileSplit predicted junior Matthew Hauser to be within the top four. 

Both of these predictions came true yesterday afternoon as Ford led the way with a personal and course record of 18:08, and Hauser placed third overall with a time of 15:24.

“I prepared by doing everything Coach Blackburn said to [do],” Ford said. “I [went to bed] at a decent time, ate a good breakfast, stayed off of and and most importantly didn’t stress myself out.”

Blackburn told his teams to stay away from the predictions, Ford said, as it would only increase the pressure and nerves. Hauser said he also didn’t let the stress get to him, keeping his eyes on one thing: the podium.

“On the start line, I felt ready to go. I was antsy to get it started because I was really excited for what was about to go down,” Hauser said. “At the finish, however, I felt an immense pain as I was unable to walk through the finishing chute. But, that pain made me happy because it elicited a good performance.”

The boys’ and girls’ teams and supporters pose with posters, flags and their hardware after earning third and second at the state championship. Photo courtesy of RBHS cross country parents.

Senior Isaiah Spellman earned his first all-state finish yesterday with a time of 15:48 and placing 15th individually. All five RBHS boys’ scoring times landed in the top 100 of the pack. Blackburn said this is only the second time both of his teams have placed in the top four in the same season, the last being in 2014. Additionally, this year, the Bruins were the only team to have both boys and girls coming away with hardware in Class 4.

“Individually I was very happy. A third place finish in a loaded field is not something to be ashamed of,” Hauser said. “Teamwise, I was indifferent because we had the potential to be state champions. We were so close, but we came up short. But even still, a third place finish is a good mark.”

Ford is the first freshman to win the Class 4 girls race in state championship history, winning the meet by five seconds over sophomore Mya Trober from Blue Springs South High School. For RBHS, she is the first individual cross country champion in school history.

“Placewise, I did the best I could. I feel as if I could have pushed just a few seconds more, but what’s done is done,” Ford said. “Teamwise, I’m so proud of everyone. The few people I could see crossing the finish line were definitely fighting for a win. The guys did great, too. They were going for podium just as hard as me.”

Ford said the finish line was where she had to fight the hardest. She didn’t want to lose to the Blue Springs South High School runner on her heels, Trober. But, Ford said she’s excited to continue competing alongside Trober in the coming years.

“Placing in the top four teams was awesome,” Ford said. “Podium was the goal, and we got it. It was what we worked to get to from preseason to postseason.”

All five Bruin scoring girls were in the top 60 individually. Ford led the way, senior Ellie Dimond placed 33rd, sophomore Maci Steuber finished 41st, sophomore Brooke Walker placed 55th and junior Olivia DeClue finished 60th. The varsity boys and girls will both be losing two seniors in the spring. Blackburn is looking forward to the upcoming track and field competition as well as future cross country potential.

“We [will] just celebrate this as they’ve worked very hard for this achievement,” Blackburn said. “We get back at it after a bit of a break and hope to continue the momentum of this weekend’s performance.”

Ford will compete in her first track and field season in the spring. 2019 marks a remarkable year for both cross country teams. The finishes from the Bruins raises standards for the future. With a young team in the works, however, many of the boys and girls will be returning in hopes of higher accolades.

“I’m looking forward to cross country [next season] and track and field. Running with the other cross country girls again will be so fun during track. It’s Ellie [Dimond’s] last year, so I want it to be a great one for her,” Ford said. “There will hopefully be the same energy from all of the distance runners. Cross country [next season] will be great, but we’ll have lost all the seniors from cross country. Without them, the team won’t be the same.”

What do you think of the Bruins’ performances? Let us know in the comments below.

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    William YooNov 21, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Caroline Ford’s performance this year is nothing short of amazing to me, can’t wait to see how she does in future seasons.