While some teams and athletes kicked off the 2022 high school cross country season on the first possible day of competition, Friday, August 25, or the following day, Saturday, August 26, the season hit full stride with most teams and healthy athletes competing last week.
This season must be one of the most anticipated in state history. After the performances from a year ago and the historic 2022 track season of distance running that so many Show-Me State athletes were apart of, the 2022 cross country season could be magical and historic in so many ways.
Numerous individuals and a handful of teams could put them among the best all-time or do something rare and special, like earning a national ranking, keeping an undefeated state meet streak alive, winning back-to-back state titles, or say maybe winning a ninth straight state title.
All of these are possible. There are endless story lines for the 2022 Missouri high school cross country season.
The season also brings more racing possibilities after the state meet. For the first time ever, there will be three national meets held. NXR is back this year at Terre Haute, IN., with the chance to qualify for NXN in Oregon. Last year's regional meets were held without a any actually national meet to qualify for and to advance to, because of weather. And the Kinney turned Foot Locker and now named Eastbay cross country championships will be held as usual, with the Midwest regional hosted at the Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The competition is heating up. The drama and excitement are building. The lines are being painted on the grass. The starters' pistols are cleaned and ready to fire. The finish chutes are ready to be filled. Get mark, get set, and go get out and watch and cheer. Login and read. Watch and retort. The time has come, it's cross country season!
Yes, it's that time, racing season!
Check out the 2022 Cross Country Previews:
Read up on the MileSplit Preseason Boys National Rankings
and the two Nationally Ranked Missouri Teams:
Kickapoo #10 Boys
Rock Bridge #17 Boys
Consider some of the individuals racing over Missouri's hills and dales.There are plenty that could do sensational things this fall, but here are just a few standouts.
Became just the 3rd high school junior to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile with his 3:58.83 Festival of Miles performance, breaking Jason Pyrah and Austin Hindman's state records.
Burns followed that up with a 8:45.52 Brooks Invitational 2-mile victory, running faster than Hindman's 8:43.40 3200-meter state record converted to 2-miles. Burns capped his junior campaign with a 1:51.60 800-meter PR in taking 6th place at the NSAF national meet in Oregon.
Burns jogged to a 16:41 5k victory Saturday on the hilly Cole County Park course at the Jim Marshall Invitational in Jefferson City, beating Capital City's Keion Grieve and the field by 26-seconds or more.
Burns should be a favorite to qualify for and contend for one or more of the now three national high school post-season meets. Last Fall he clocked 14:56.30 5k in taking second at the Chile Pepper Festival. That was a week after a 15:05 victory at the Gans Creek Classic for the high school course record before taking the Class 3 title in 15:13.50.
Hauser joined Taylor Werner as the sole Missouri runners to win the meet. Hauser then ran to a 12th-place Eastbay Midwest Cross Country regional finish, coming up just short of qualifying for the national meet, known previously as the Kinney and Foot Locker Championships.
Hauser capped his sophomore cross country season with a 25th-place finish at a new national meet, the 2nd RunningLane championships. Hauser and many others set huge personal records (PRs) on the fast course in Alabama. He clocked 14:38.15 and led the Bruins to a 19th-place team finish. Rock Bridge joined the 2006 Potosi team as the only Missouri squads to qualify and compete in a national meet.
Hauser continued to shine on the track, recording a 9:05 3200-meter PR to take 3rd at state in class 5, while wining the 1600 in 4:11.72. Hauser then blasted a 4:10.61 full mile at Festival of Miles, taking 8th in the high school boy's race. Hauser opened his junior year with a 3rd-place finish at the Granite City Invite in Illinois Saturday.
Kemey was the second half of the vicious Rock Bridge 1-2 punch in their lineup in 2021. Kemey made strides all season long, getting better every meet. After 8th and 7th-place finishes at Forest Park and Gans Creek, Kemey was 3rd at the Parkway West Dale Shepherd meet and then second to Hauser in Kentucky when the Bruins scored a perfect 15 points.
At districts, Kemey and Hauser crossed the tape together with Kemey taking the win by a photo finish. Kemey was 4th at State, trailing only Hauser and Liberty North's Ethan Lee and Sage Wilde.
Kemey made huge strides in the post-season. He ran 16:18 to take 12th at NXR Midwest, earning All-Region honors and helping Rock Bridge to a 7th-place team finish. Kemey shined again with a 54th-place finish at the RunningLane Championships, as the Bruins took 19th.
In track, Kemey posted pre-state meet bests of 1:57.25, 4:12.81, and 9:24.35. At state he went 9:10.36 in the 3200 for 5th, after helping the Bruins to 4th in the 4x800. Then he ran 4:15.41 for 5th in the 1600. He followed with a 4:17.62 full-mile clocking at Festival of Miles. Kemey kicked off his senior campaign with a victory at Granite City, IL. Saturday. Kemey ran 14:34 for 3-miles, ahead of Dylon Nalley of Marion, IL. (14:38), and teammate Hauser (14:47).
Sage Wilde was a solid contributor to the Eagles 2020 cross country season, taking 70th at state, helping North to the 4th-place team trophy as the 5th scorer. He followed with a 12th-place state track finish in the 3200-meters with a PR 9:34.58 as a freshman in 2021.
Wilde exploded out of the gates last fall as a sophomore. Third, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 1st, his finishes at the Olathe Twilight, Missouri Southern Stampede, Rim Rock Farm Classic, Chile Pepper, and Kearney meets, posting times between 15:10 and 15:37. After a runner-up KC Suburban Gold Conference finish, Wilde won the Class 5 District 4 meet, leading the Eagles to the victory.
At the state meet, Wilde took 3rd behind winner Hauser and teammate Ethan Lee. Wilde ran 15:06 as Lee and Wilde's 2-3 finish led Liberty North to the 3rd-place team trophy. After bagging a buck during deer gun season, the young hunter headed to Huntsville, AL., for the RunningLane Championships a month after state. Wilde gutted out a phenomenal 14:42, 33rd-place finish. Hauser and Wilde were the 3rd and 5th-place finishers among underclassmen, in the race of 308 finishers.
In his sophomore track campaign, Wilde lowered his PRs to 4:27.99 and 9:22.97 for 1600 and 3200-meters. He won the district 8 3200-meters in Class 5 before posting his PR in a 2nd-place sectional performance. He was 11th at state in 9:31.
With Liberty North graduating two of the state's best the past two years in Ethan Lee and Luis Perez, Wilde will have to shoulder more of leadership load. Things went well for Wilde and the Eagles as they kicked off their season Saturday at the Tim Nixon Invitational, named after longtime Liberty High coach who passed away unexpectedly in 2017. Wilde scorched the new course at Capital Federal Sports Complex, running 14:54.40, for a 45-second victory. The Eagles won in convincing fashion, scoring just 38 points while Olathe South and Liberty were 2nd and 3rd at 81 and 82 points.