Brian T. Simpson Invite Recap

Twenty-eight high schools and seventeen middle schools and junior highs made the trip to Columbia's south-side Saturday, October 8 to race at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course. Harrisburg High School hosted the meet, twenty-plus miles southeast of campus in Columbia. Class 1 and 2 schools from northeast, northwest, north central, and mid-Missouri made the trip to race at the second edition of the Brian T. Simpson Invitational.

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The meet is named for the former Harrisburg teacher, cross country, and baseball coach, who also assisted with softball. Simpson died five years ago in an accident while driving the Harrisburg cross country team to a meet in Moberly. A pickup truck crossed the center line and collided with the bus Simpson was driving. Simpson's wife, daughter, and a former athlete who was injured in the crash were on hand Saturday, along with other friends to honor Simpson, watch the races, and cheer on athletes.

At least 335 athletes raced with Simpson's name on their numbered race bibs that hung on the front of their jerseys. The weather cooperated, enhancing a day of honor, with crisp, clean air, clear blue skies, and sunshine at the three-year-old world-class cross country course.

Middle School Girls

The middle school girls 3,000-meter race kicked off the meet at 10:00 a.m. Christian Fellowship School (Columbia) 8th-grader Angelina Cottone cruised to a dominant win in an eye-opening 11:03. That time would have placed her 2nd at the August 27, high school COMO Kick-Off meet hosted by Hickman High School at Gans Creek. Blue Springs junior All-State standout runner Abigail Brackenbury won the 5-team, 3-kilometer race in 10:55, six weeks earlier.


The top-5 finishers of the girls middle school 3,000-meter race stand on the awards podium after receiving their medals, including Christian Fellowship 8th-grader A. Cottone (far left), who finished in 11:03 and winning by 1:28.

The Monroe City Middle School girls won the team title. The Lady Panthers were led by 8th-grader Bradi Keller who placed 2nd. Monroe City top seven runners finished in 2-7-8-10-24-25-39-places, scoring 32-points to win by more than 20. Schuyler County was 2nd with 53-points while Harrisburg was 3rd with 75 points in the race that featured 17 schools and 5 teams with at least 5 finishing runners to meet the team scoring minimums.

 The Monroe City girls on the awards podium after their middle school race victory.

Middle School Boys

The middle school boys 3-kilometer race at 10:30 featured a duel between two 7th-graders. Christian Fellowship School's Hayden Jokerst, sporting a headband and sunglasses, moved quickly to the lead off the start line. The only one to go with him was Russellville's Langsten Ratcliff. The lean, long-striding Jokerst had 1.5-2 steps on Ratcliff at 1,100-meters. The muscular Ratcliff, who could pass for a high school senior instead of a 7th-grader, tried to keep pace.