The best athletes and teams in Class 3 will square off on Saturday at Gans Creek in the Missouri Class 3 State Cross Country Championships.
The boy's individual title race is looking to be the race to watch this weekend in all classes. Connor Burns (Southern Boone) and Daelen Ackley (El Dorado Springs) are set for a rematch of last year's Class 3 title that wasn't decided until the final couple meters last season, which saw Ackley just beat Burns for his second straight state championship. Burns has had a phenomenal season in 2021, and he holds the fastest time in the state this season with a 14:56 from Chili Pepper. That time is the fifth-fastest time in state history and has him within striking distance of the state record of 14:47. He also owns the Gans Creek course record with a 15:05 he ran there earlier this season. He's won eight of his nine races this season and hasn't lost to a Missourian in 2021.
Daelen Ackley though has always had the ability to perform at his best when it matters most. Having battled an injury this season, he still holds a season-best of 15:10 from MSSU and picked up five wins in six tries this season, with his only lost being a 13th place finish at Chili Pepper (Burns placed second). He's won back-to-back state titles after finishing fourth as a freshman, and he holds a very impressive resume. Out of the 52 races he's run across track and cross country since his sophomore year he's won 45 of them. In those seven races, he's lost he's only finished worse than second twice. That's pretty incredible, and you'd have to be crazy to count him out on Saturday.
The team title race also looks to be a thriller. There are realistically up to seven teams who could walk away with the trophy if they have their best day. Potosi and Herculaneum are separated by just half a point in the virtual meet with East Newton just 12 points back of them. El Dorado Springs and Father Tolton are another 20 points back but within striking distance, followed by St. Charles West and Maryville another ten back.
COVERAGE: MSHSAA Class 3 State XC Championships
The girl's race will have some real contenders as well and could be an interesting finish. Freshman Elyse Wilmes (Father Tolton) has the fastest time this season in Class 3 with a 17:55 and has won every race she's run this year. To win the state title though she'll have to go through defending Class 4 State Champion Lilian Jackson (St. Charles West). Jackson has been solid again this season and holds a season-best of 18:37 from the Gans Creek Classic earlier this year, and she'll be looking to capture her second state cross country crown.
In the race for the team title, Southern Boone comes in as the favorite in the virtual meet with a thirty-point lead over Father Tolton. St. Charles West another is forty points back, with Lutheran South another fifteen behind them. Potosi and El Dorado Springs could also step up and make a run at a possible trophy finish.