Chris Auckley's Hancock Summary

Werner and Ste. Gen., Fatima Comets and West Plains boys dominate at 51st Hancock

The 51st version of the Hancock Cross Country Invitational didn’t disappoint as great performances were seen all throughout the morning at Jefferson Barracks. Saturday most likely featured the most instances of teams moving up divisions from their MSHSAA label, seeking increased competition. In the 4A Varsity Boys race, the defending Class 3 State Champion Festus Tigers took up the challenge of facing the biggest schools. While in the 4A Varsity Girls race, the top-two finishers from the 2012 Class 3 State Meet and East-Central Missouri rivals Ste. Genevieve and Festus, moved up and impressed.

Zizzers honor the “First Lady of Missouri Cross Country”

In the first Varsity race of the day, the West Plains Zizzer boys did their coach proud. Racing a week after legendary coach Joe Bill Dixon’s wife Judy passed away, the Zizzers ran in her honor, and couldn’t have done much better. The 2012 Missouri Class 4 fourth-placers, the Zizzers put five in the top eight, and all seven runners in the top 24 places. West Plains dominated in tallying just 28 points, tying what at one time was claimed as the 4A race meet record of 28 points with Jefferson City and Liberty. The Zizzers were led by junior Camden Barrett who pushed the pace early until settling for a runner-up finish in 16:13. The 2-5 scorers placed fifth through eighth, finishing in 16:34 to 16:38 for the hilly 5k course filled with tight turns.

After the race the Zizzers said they came together as a team to run their best and honor Mrs. Dixon with their effort. They also mentioned her as the First Lady of Missouri Cross Country, having had a big hand in building the Zizzer powerhouse that not only captured many state titles and trophies, but also helped mold young lives. Coach Dixon said Judy was “the best overachievement of his life”, and that’s saying something. Dixon and his staff have traditionally turned out strong teams, and while they have had their share of All-Time Missouri great runners, more often the Zizzers have won by working harder than their often larger school opponents with more talent. The Zizzers are well trained by their coaches and while a little quiet and short on words during an interview, were full of respect and humbleness, as they always are.

Lafayette sophomore Dylan Quisenberry continues to impress and came away with his third individual win of the season, finishing in 16:06 to lead the Lancers to a second place team finish, scoring 58 points. Sean O’Connor’s squad edged the Zizzers for third place at the 2012 State Meet and their first State Team Trophy. Despite losing two All-Staters to graduation, the young Lancers haven’t missed a beat. All but one of their top five are under classmen, and Saturday’s squad included just one senior and one junior.  O’Connor told the Post-Dispatch’s Mike Elder: “I thought team-wise we ran an exceptional race…The kids are running well. We’re continually improving.”

For the fourth straight race, Festus’ Michael Karls and Tyler Gillam finished next to each other, with Karls always edging Gillam. The pair went 3-4 to help the Tigers to a third place team finish against the larger schools, totaling 108 points. Edwardsville (Il.) finished 4th with 124 points just ahead of Eureka’s 134.


Werner and Ste. Genevieve Girls keep rolling in 4A race

After a dream year in 2012-2013 which saw the Ste. Genevieve girls capture the Missouri Class 3 State Cross Country and Track and Field titles, and Taylor Werner explode on the scene earning All-American honors in cross country, the Lady Hunters aren’t slowing down. Ste. Gen. lost a couple of pieces from last year but have lots of young talent. The 2012 Hancock Meet resulted in a 3A victory for Ste. Genevieve, scoring just 25 points while Taylor Werner won in 18:00, most likely a meet record. Despite the move to the 4A race Saturday, the results weren’t much different. Taylor Werner cruised over the turns and hills of the Jefferson Barracks course to finish in an astonishing 17:43, winning by 59 seconds.

Werner’s effort was just as impressive as two weeks ago when she captured the Forest Park Festival crown in dominating fashion. After a week off of racing, Werner left the Hancock field behind, leaving them fighting for second place. Festus standout Jamie Kempfer had a stellar race. Kempfer finished strong after fading down the stretch at Forest Park, and took runner-up honors in 18:42, edging Eureka All-American Hannah Long, 18:51. Referring to the tough course and warming conditions Kempfer said: “It was just not a fast day here, everyone felt it.”

About beating Hannah Long, Kempfer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “It was really exciting. At Forest Park, I was right on (Long’s) tail, and the last 800 meters, I died. I really wanted to go into this race with a different race strategy. I think I took out too hard at Forest Park, so this time I kind of laid back.” The strategy paid off as Kempfer was patient over the Jefferson Barracks hills, and didn’t fade, but surged. Coach Bryant Wright was pleased with the performance, telling Elder: “She’s been running strong…I think Long had an off day. But to beat Long even on an off day is pretty impressive, I would say.”

Although seeing how fast Werner would finish in thrilled the crowd, it was tough to measure up to last year’s 4A Girls finish. Parkway West’s Maddy Brown won a three-person kick to the finish to hold off Lafayette’s Sarah Nicholson and Eureka’s Angie Sumner. Brown finished 4th Saturday, one second faster than last year in 19:04, while Ste. Gen’s Mia Jerman was fifth and Francis Howell’s freshman Maddi Leigh was sixth.  Nicholson was seventh and Edwardsville’s Allie Sweatt, presumably the sister of former Edwardsville standout and Stanford runner Garrett Sweatt, was eighth. 

Ste. Genevieve put four sophomores in the top 13 with Mallory Koller 10th and Amy Huck 13th, while Shelby Werner rounded out the scoring in 34th, giving the Lady Hunters 63 points. Led by Long and Rachel Yergensen-ninth, Eureka finished second in the team race totaling 98 points. The battle for the third and final team trophy went to Lafayette-151 points, who edged Edwardsville-155, and Festus-158. Carolyn White also earned a medal for Festus in 14th helping provide the nice showing for the Class 3 Lady Tigers. Festus finally got to see senior Kaitlin Elbl in action Saturday as she captured the 3A JV race. All-Stater Elbl is trying to make it back from an injury that claimed her summer training. Elbl’s progress will be important if the Lady Tigers want to contend for another State Trophy, as they were Class 3 runner-ups last fall.

First year Head Coach Dave Rogles’ Francis Howell Lady Vikings were without a couple of their important pieces Saturday, as they seek to defend their 2012 Class 4 State cross country title. The Lady Vikings, who’ve looked like the one of the top teams in Class 4 early in the season, had just five finishers and settled for an eighth place finish. Howell senior Kristen Adams appears to be catching up on lost time. An injury stole Adams summer training, but hopefully Adams can make it all the way back to claim another All-State honor by season’s end.  


Fatima flies by competition in 1A-2A races

The Fatima Comets left no doubt who the best teams were in the 1A-2A Varsity races at this year’s Hancock meet. The Mid-Missouri team from Westphalia seemed to have runners constantly flood across the finish line near the front of both the boys and girls races. In the girl’s race, Red Bud (Il.) junior Deanna Deterding cruised to victory, finishing in 19:50 to win by more than a minute and a half. But with the second place finisher coming up the long 250 meter final hill, the onslaught for the Comets was on. Riley Caminiti took the silver for Fatima and after Red Bud’s Keri Burmester took third, two more Comets crossed, freshman Madison Day and senior Alexis Peters. Fatima put three in the top five, five in the top 14, and all seven runners in the top 21 to take home the team trophy and seven individual medals that were awarded to the top 30 finishers. Fatima scored just 36 points, and would have lost by only 11 points if the rest of the field were a combined team.

Coach Jim Kasten’s Herculaneum girls totaled 65 points for second place, led by Sam Jarvis’ 7th place finish. Despite the loss of daughters Ana and superstar Saga to graduation, Don Barzowski’s Arcadia Valley girls are doing their best to earn a second straight State trophy. Arcadia Valley landed the third place trophy Saturday with 124 points to edge Russellville-129, Red Bud-136, and Valle Catholic-140. The fourth place finish for Russellville was impressive for the Class 1 school, and the Lady Indians will have to continue to overcome if they want to continue their streak of State Trophies to four.  The squad lost of one of their top runners to a torn ACL recently while playing for the school’s softball team, according to Coach Craig Miller.

The Fatima girls were impressive in their win, scoring just 36 points, but the boys were even better. The Comets rolled the competition scoring just 34 points, going 1-4-6-10-13-16-55, putting six in the top 16. Senior Tom Zeilman captured individual gold finishing in 17:32 to lead the Comets. Ross Schanzmeyer, Hunter Hennier, and Cody Huhn provided the other top 10 finishers for Coach Marcus Bridges. O’Fallon Christian’s Andrew State’s took the silver in 17:35, and New Haven’s Seth Schenck earned the bronze in 17:38. The Russellville boys took the second place team trophy scoring 110 points with Alex Thompson taking 5th overall. The Arcadia Valley boys equaled their girls third place trophy, totaling 131 points while the Herculaneum boys were fourth with 149 points for Coach Kyle Davis.


Lee leads MICDS Girls, King 1st for Potosi as Cape Girardeau Notre Dame takes title in 3A

After a 49th place finish at the 2012 Class 3 State Cross Country Meet to help her MICDS team to a 6th place finish, freshman Geneva Lee impressed with a 5:25 1600 meters regular track season performance. She capped her freshman year by earning relay All-State honors with a 4x800 bronze and a 4x400 gold as the Lady Rams finished 10th as a team at the 2013 Class 3 State meet. Lee continues to show good range and proved so with a victory in the 3A race Saturday. The sophomore was in third place halfway through the race at Jefferson Barracks. She was 12 seconds back of leader Kayla Fallis of Moberly and a few back of rival Villa Duchesne’s Elise Marker. That all changed by the finish as Lee, tall and strong, made up the ground over the final 1.5 miles, which includes just a few hundred meters worth of flat terrain. Lee’s strength won out as she turned a 12-second deficit into a 12-second victory, finishing in 20:52. Marker moved up to second in 21:04 and Cape Girardeau Notre Dame’s Adilyn Mueller edged early leader Fallis by less than a second for third.

MICDS’ Klasey Medelberg was sixth and the Rams added top-30 medalists at 13th, 14th and 20th to total 48 points to give Jim Lohr’s squad the team title. Cape Girardeau Notre Dame’s Coach Bill Davis isn’t taking it easy after joining the Missouri Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame last December. His girls were second to MICDS, scoring 77 points. Fellow MTCCCA Hall of Famer Steve Miller’s Villa Duchesne squad was third, edging another inductee, Steve Davis’ Potosi girls by 32 points for the final trophy in the 12 team race.

While Steve Davis’ Potosi girls came up short of a trophy, his sophomore Austin King continued his strong season. King may be Davis’ best boy since the mid-2000’s. King appears to be putting in the work to get as close to the marks, success and lore of Jacob and the Joshes. King captured the 3A title, finishing in 16:41, five seconds ahead of Ste. Genevieve freshman Ben Naeger in 16:46. Potosi’s second Austin, Austin Smith was seventh, while Thomas Gross was ninth and freshman Caleb Gaylord 29th, giving the Trojans four medalists, though they didn’t field a full team and were short of a team score and possible trophy.

Bill Davis’ Notre Dame Boys were even better than his girls and their second place finish. The boys grabbed the first place 3A Boys trophy and were forced to make room for two varsity trophies on the white and blue Notre Dame owned school bus, for the trip south to Cape Girardeau.  The Bulldogs nearly halved the competition, totaling just 58 points, despite finishing just five runners. Freshman Rudy McClellan led the way with his 4th place finish in 17:20. He was followed by one senior and three juniors, all finishing in the top 25.

The MICDS boys were led by Peter Condie’s 10th place finish and totaled 106 points for runner-up honors. Moberly edged Priory for the third place trophy, 150-159, while the Festus boys B squad finished fifth after Coach Bryant Wright’s “A-Team” was third in the 4A race.


Sibling Success

Hannah Long has earned a trunk load of medals and hardware over her first two years of running for Eureka and Coach Kally Fischer, including All-American honors for her 10th place finish at last year’s Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. Now her first of two younger brothers has gotten in on the high school action. After middle school success in age-level open competition, Zach is now a freshman for the Wildcat boys’ squad. The pair captured medals together at the same meet for the first time. Hannah, taking third in the 4A girls race, while Zach was 25th in the 4A boys race. Zach was the second man on the Eureka squad and was the second freshman finisher. 

A second pair of siblings, the Inman twins from West Plains not only both medaled, but finished next to each other for the 4A Champions. Jeremy placed 7th in 16:36 while Jordan was 8th, less than two seconds back. It’s unclear whether another pair of varsity medalists are siblings or even related. In the 3A race Ste. Genevieve freshman Ben Naeger finished an impressive second while Valle Catholic-located in Ste. Genevieve, senior Matthew Naeger was 26th in the 1A-2A race.

Speaking of family, a Wilmes brought a team to St. Louis area for the second time in two weeks. Former Mizzou All-American runner and coach, Jared Wilmes brought his Tolton Catholic team to Jefferson Barracks Saturday. The Columbia school is in its third year of existence and the trailblazers are led by a man with some great experience as an athlete and a coach. Rebecca (Davis) Wilmes is in her first year coaching at Columbia’s third high school-Battle High, which opened this year. Also a former All-American runner at Mizzou who had success coaching at her alma mater, brought her young squad to the Forest Park Cross Country Festival two weeks prior to Hancock.

The Hancock meet is a staple of the St. Louis cross country scene and brings many schools of all sizes across Missouri and a few from Illinois year in and year out. The meet lost favor with some coaches for a while and now has more competition with Kansas’ Rim Rock Farm meet and the Chicago suburb Palatine meet attracting some of the best teams and individuals in Missouri and the Midwest. However things have seemed to stabilize, in part thanks to the reliable and quick work of Rich Schilling and his TRXC Timing crew. If you’re a fan of cross country and made it to Jefferson Barracks, you were treated to an excellent show at the 51st Hancock Invitational.

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