We've been waiting for this moment for a long a time. There's been a lot of discussion about it since MSHSAA announced that the 2019 State Championships would be moved to Gans Creek in Columbia, and we finally get to see what that looks like this weekend at the Gans Creek Classic. There's definitely a buzz in the air, not just among MileSplit Editors and coaches such as myself, but even the athletes I've heard from are excited at the possibilities that this new course can provide them. It should be an exciting weekend, and I'll go through each of the races and the course below.
The course is comprised of a 2K and a 3K loop with some rolling hills throughout. The start line is a 500m straight away that slowly funnels into the first turn that should provide a good start for runners and allow for the race to spread out a little before the course narrows. After that they will head into a pretty tight turn followed by some wider turns, and on the first loop they will run back through the start line, and will start on the 3K loop which will finish back just behind the starting area.
It should shape up to be a relatively fast course depending on the weather. Though there are rolling hills throughout, there doesn't appear to be anything close to firehouse hill to be weary of. If I had to compare it to courses based on what I've seen and heard so far I'd say it'll be similar to LaVern Gibson Championship XC Course in Terre Haute, Indiana that hosts Nike XC Regionals every year and is hosting the NCAA Division I National Championships this year.
Gold Division Girls
This race is LOADED. All but one top 10 Class 4 team is in the field, led by No. 1 Lee's Summit West which is followed by No. 2 Rock Bridge, No. 3 Eureka, No. 4 Nerinx Hall, No. 6 Cor Jesu, No. 7 Parkway West, No. 8 Marquette, No. 9 Liberty, and No. 10 Francis Howell. Class 3 adds an additional six ranked teams in No. 1 Smithville, No. 2 Festus, No. 3 Herculaneum, No. 5 Owensville, No. 8 Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau), and No. 9 John Burroughs. Class 2 No. 1 Fatima is also in the field.
With all that being said it might be harder to place top 4 in this this race than it will be to be top 4 at the State Meet in November. I think Lee's Summit West will comfortably win the team title, but for the next few spots I think it'll be a dog fight between Eureka, Nerinx Hall, Cor Jesu, and Rock Bridge.
The race for the Individual title should be a barn burner as well. Each of the top 5 fastest girls in the State so far this season are in the field. Madison Hulsey (Lee's Summit West) leads the way with an 18:29 season best, followed by Elizabeth Stinson (Liberty North) at 18:31, Olivia Littleton (Smithville) at 18:45, Grace Tyson (Lafayette - Wildwood) at 18:45, and Kylie Goldfarb (John Burroughs) at 18:54. I would also keep an eye out for Carolyn Ford (Rock Bridge) who ran 19:18 and took second at Forest Park and hasn't gotten to run on a "PR Course" like the rest of the girls gunning for a team title.
Gold Division Boys
The boys race is pretty stacked to in the Gold Division, with all but the top 2 teams in Class 4 with No. 3 Marquette, No. 4 Liberty, No. 5 Lee's Summit West, No. 6 Central (St. Joseph), No. 7 Webster Groves, No. 8 Rock Bridge, No. 9 Rockhurst, and No. 10 Lafayette (Wildwood) all participating. Class 3 is also bringing some big guns to the fight with No. 1 Festus, No. 2 Bolivar, and No. 3 Herculaneum.
I think the team title will be hotly contested between Forest Park Champions Liberty, Liberty North, Marquette, and Lee's Summit West. However, I can also see Lafayette (Wildwood) and Webster Groves running really well here. All of these teams are very close and it should be an exciting race to watch.
Buckle up for this individual title race folks, because there are 13 boys entered who have ran faster than 16:00 this season. Wes Porter (Rockhurst) will be the favorite I believe and holds a season best of 15:40, and challenging him will be Charlie Teeter (Webster Groves) at 15:40, Brock Wooderson (Blue Springs) at 15:40, and Jack Crull (Helias Catholic) at 15:46. I think it'll come down to Porter and Crull, and I think both of those boys could easily make a run at the top time in the state so far this year which is currently held by Blake Morris with a 15:26.
Blue & White Divisions
The Blue Division Girls has some top individuals in the race with Macy Schelp (Lutheran South) leading the way with a time of 19:26, and is followed by Alex Sharp (Brookfield) at 19:28, and Lilian Jackson (St. Charles West) just behind her at 19:36.
The Blue Division Boys will have the fastest Missourian so far this season competing with Blake Morris (Notre Dame - Cape Girardeau) coming into the race with a season best of 15:26. Also in this race is defending Class 2 State Champion Kolin Overstreet (Lamar) who will be competing for the with Morris for the Class 3 State Title after Lamar moved up in classifications.
The White Division Girls will feature one of the top freshman runners in the State so far this season with Kiersten Potter (Lamar) racing with a season best of 19:05. The White Division Boys race will feature Malik Stewart (Maplewood-Richmond Hts) who comes in with a season best time of 15:49 and is a favorite to win the Class 2 State title in November.