2023 Missouri XC Season Preview: Class 4 Girls

The 2023 season is officially upon us! We are ready to preview all of the craziness that comes with it. 

Class 4 features the potential top team in the entire state regardless of class, some familiar faces from teams from all over the state at the top, and a very strong group of incoming freshmen to stir the pot with the returning upperclassmen. 

Take a look at the athletes, teams, and storylines to watch for in Class 4 this season. The other three classes will be released over the coming days.


BOYS: Class 5 | Class 4 | Class 3 | Class 2 | Class 1

GIRLS: Class 5 | Class 4 | Class 3 | Class 2 | Class 1 


Top 7 Contenders

Elyse Wilmes - Father Tolton Catholic

A leg injury held Father Tolton's Elyse Wilmes back a bit toward the end of the 2022 cross-country season, but her 2023 track season showed no lingering side effects, and she is ready to roll once again this fall. 

Her Trailblazers team dropped into Class 2 due to enrollment and the expiration of their championship factor and Wilmes was able to earn victories in the 800 and 1600 meters and finish out her season with a 2:06.97 personal best (en route to RunningLane Track Championships gold) and 4:54.98 best in the 1600. It was a big bounce-back season for her after she missed the 17:55.78 5K mark she set in 2021 and finished in 7th place at the Class 4 State meet a year after winning Class 3 in convincing fashion. 

Wilmes is a key low scorer for one of the state's all-time great squads. This Tolton team has a chance to do something very special this season and Wilmes is the key up front.


Kayleigh Norris - Harrisonville

Harrisonville junior Kayleigh Norris burst onto the scene in her first cross-country season last fall. After a solid freshman track campaign, she debuted with a 19:35.80 5k before running her personal best of 18:33.96 at Odessa. 

Norris established herself as a hard-nosed front-runner everywhere she went and capped off her first cross country campaign with a 9th place finish at the Class 4 State meet and four meet wins under her belt, including a District 4 gold. Her best from Odessa is 2nd among Class 4 returners. 

This spring, Norris further pushed the envelope with track personal bests of 2:16.40, 4:53.28, and 10:54.50 in the 800, 1600, and 3200, respectively. She won 23 gold medals including state gold in the 1600. Her only 2 losses in that event came at the Kansas Relays and Festival of Miles. Watch for Norris to challenge for the cross-country state title this fall. 


Sisely Mitchell - Platte County

Quietly solid throughout her career so far, Platte County senior Sisely Mitchell is ready to make some serious noise on the cross-country course in 2023. 

Mitchell enters the season with an 18:51.40 personal best from the Gans Creek Classic Blue Division race in which Class 3 standout Emery Mayfield just barely held her off for the win. She was the KC Suburban Red/White Division Champion, District 4 runner-up to Norris, and grabbed her second all-state cross country medal in as many tries with a 12th place finish in November, just one spot behind her 2021 finish. 

On the track, she owns personal bests of 2:26.32, 5:22.09 and 11:36.97 from her sophomore campaign which shows she has the range to compete with the big dogs at every level. Mitchell could surprise some folks and challenge for a state championship in her own right. 


Alexandra Kinstler - Kearney

Kearney's Alexandra Kinstler finished up her sophomore season a few ticks off her stellar freshman season but returns as one of the top returning athletes in Class 4 nonetheless.

Kinstler boasts a lifetime best of 18:36.80 over 5K, a mark which earned her a 3rd place medal at the 2021 Class 4 State meet. She was also the 2021 District 4 champion and won the KC Suburban Blue Conference. The Kearney freshman phenom parlayed that success on the course into success on the track with an 11:53.07 3200 best and berth to the Class 4 State track meet. She was able to dip under 19:00 during the 2022 fall season, but ended up 29th at the state meet, a place that would earn her All-State this season, but not last season. 

Kearney will be profiled later as a podium contender, but Kinstler's back in the top 5 will make them a title contender, even with a stacked Tolton team. Kinstler can absolutely make that leap back up to the single-digit places and we will be excited to watch it unfold.


Naomi Hunter - Smithville

Smithville's newest superstar is junior Naomi Hunter. A two-time all-stater already, Hunter has been steadily moving over the last two years and appears poised to attack the top 5 in Class 4 in 2023. 

Hunter enters with a lifetime 5K best of 19:06.69 from last season's Missouri Southern Stampede. She was under 19:45 six times, including a 19:36.20 mark for 14th at the Class 4 State meet. Key victories in 2022 came in the Rim Rock Classic Crimson Division and KC Suburban Blue Division, in addition to a runner-up finish in the Forest Park XC Festival Gold Division. 

Hunter has all the makings of a front-runner this fall after posting 5:23.90 and 11:26.73 personal bests on the track this spring, the latter being good enough for 7th at the Class 4 State track meet. Anticipate another big leap for her in 2023. 


Caterina Rossomanno - Rockwood Summit

The St. Louis area's top returner is Rockwood Summit junior Caterina Rossomanno.

A quiet star in the state, Rossomanno has been a major piece to the Falcons' success over the last few years. Last fall, they were a mere 2 points off of the state title, which would've been the first in school history. Rossomanno will most likely carry the torch once again this fall with her 19:07.88 career best. She was 4th at last year's Class 4 State Cross Country meet and the dreaded 9th in the 3200 at the Class 4 State Track meet. She did, however, walk away from it with a new 11:32.53 best. 

The contingent behind her lost a couple of key pieces, but with Rossomanno heading the charge, expect Summit to be back in the mix for a team title and team glory in November. 


Brooke Beck - Pleasant Hill

Ladies, if you look to your left or right with 400 meters to go this fall and see Pleasant Hill's Brooke Beck right next to you, let me be the first to say... Sorry.

Beck has quickly transformed her into the next best 200-5000 range athlete in the state. She has posted lifetime bests of 26.32 in the 200, 55.00 in the 400, 2:16.44 in the 800, and 19:17.10 in the 5000 (Cross Country). She was this year's Class 4 State Champion in the 400-meter dash, 9 months after running 19:17.10 for 5th at the Class 4 State Cross Country meet. Her 3:36 final K was the fastest 5th K split of the race and jumped her 10 places from when she crossed the 4K mark to when she finished. 

Her incredible range and speed will be on display once again this fall and could do well if she is trying to win the District 4 meet. There are 5 girls in the top 7 here who could theoretically find themselves in District 4. 



Freshmen To Watch

Angelina Cottone - Father Tolton Catholic

For the last two years, Angelina Cottone has dominated the cross country and track and field circuit in central Missouri and beyond. A member of Blue Thunder Track Club and student at Christian Fellowship School, where in Columbia she would land for high school was certainly on everyone's minds. 

It appears the rich have gotten much, much richer. 

Cottone arrives at the 2-time state champion Father Tolton Regional Catholic High School this fall and will surely elevate them to the top of every race in which they compete. She boasts personal bests of 2:17.83, 4:41.40 (1500), 5:14.88 (1 Mile), and 10:16.26 (3000) on the track. The phenom recently won the Festival of Miles middle school race and AAU national titles in the Age 14 1500 and 3000 meters. She's also run 11:50.90 for 2 miles in cross country and ran 18:49.00 for 5K at the MCSAA Cross Country Championship. 

Cottone will be competitive for an individual state championship as a freshman, even if she has to compete with her teammates for it. The element she adds to this Father Tolton will make them very fun to watch.


Mariah Denney - Sullivan

Sullivan's Mariah Denney also had a successful middle school campaign and should be an impact freshman for the Eagles this fall. She is coming off of a runner-up finish at the Festival of Miles in 5:20.91, her first loss and only loss of the 2023 track and field season. On the cross country course, she enters high school with a 9:45.10 personal best in the 2400 meters and 12:38.22 best in the 3200 meters. Denney is a star-in-the-making at Sullivan and should be high on watch lists as we head toward racing season. 



Top 4 Teams

Father Tolton Catholic

This is where things start to get hairy. Father Tolton is set to have one of the greatest seasons in state history, but if their enrollment goes up by even 25, they could find themselves in Class 5 instead of Class 4. It should not make much of a difference, though, as they appear to have the kind of group that could go head to head with anyone in the state...and possibly anyone in state history. Led by Elyse Wilmes and her 17:55 career best, the Trailblazers boast two other sub-19:20 returners in Madison Taylor and Makaylin Viet. They're adding Angelina Cottone's sub-19:00 personal best from 8th grade and Addison Wheeler, a 19:53 runner at Rock Bridge last fall who posted a 12:09 best 3200 this spring. It isn't a deep squad, but it is an absolutely ridiculous Top 5 that could all find themselves in the top 15 at the state meet on the day. Tolton is looking good for their third straight state title, and, should they move up to Class 5, could even find themselves looking to pick up their third straight state title in their third different classification. 



No all-state individuals, no problem. Kearney pulled off a rare feat in 2022 wherein none of their athletes finished in the top 25, but they still finished 4th as a team at the Class 4 State meet. 

Led by Liela Murphy in the dreaded 26th position and Kinstler in 29th, the Lady Bulldogs used a 59-second 1-5 spread to snag the final trophy. They were well ahead of 5th place Rolla, but very close to their first state championship since winning three straight from 2009-2011. 

Most of the crew is back with Abigail McQuillen, Olivia Brock, and Heidi Adams making up the top 5 fold heading into the season. Kinstler's sub-19 season best skews the spread, but they have only 54 seconds between No. 2 and No. 6. They will most likely have a tight pack behind their front-runners again this fall and should be considered a major player for the team title, even with a strong Tolton team vying to retain their crown. 



The Clayton Lady Greyhounds made history last year as they earned their first team trophy in girl's cross country in their school's long history. In fact, though they finished 3rd, they were a mere 3 points off the state title. And even though they graduated several important seniors last year, they will still return a strong group for the 2023 season. 

Clayton's top returners are Lauren Van Rhein and Anna McAndrew. Both girls come in with sub-20:00 personal bests and finished 20th and 22nd, respectively, at last year's Class 4 State meet.  Next is Ana Ramirez Taylor at 20:04 and Ella Caroline Welch at 20:44. Camille Matlock and Annalee Miller will be solid pieces at 5 and 6 at 21:16 and 21:24, but there is a bit of a drop-off when it comes to depth after that. 

Coach Crowe's squad should definitely be considered a podium team once again in 2023 and an upset pick should they add even one more low-to-sub-20:00 to the mix.



It looks like another year where Bolivar is among the pre-season teams to watch as they continue to add great runners to their fold every year. 

Led by Ayden Spotila and Emma Howes, the Lady Liberators are adding Julia Jump back into the mix, as well, after a season off in 2022. Spotila was 4th in the Ozark Conference with her 19:47.27 personal best and Howes just dipped under 20:00 with her 19:59.13 mark at that same meet. Jump will add another strong piece to the puzzle as she not only owns a 20:25.65 personal best from the 2021 season but is also coming off a track season in which she ran 11:49.75 for 3200 meters. Tessa Ludden makes it four girls under 21:00, but they will need to hope for someone else to step up if they hope to return to the podium for the first time since they won Class 3 in 2018. 


Dark Horse Team To Watch


The Festus girls are steadily climbing the ranks and ready to return to glory this fall. They haven't been on the podium since finishing runner-up to Bolivar in 2018, but should be returning a team that will contend for a trophy this time around. 

The Lady Tigers are led by Abigail Schnable, a senior with a 19:41.30 best to her name. She should receive help from Jeannie Thornborrow and Riley Vogel at 2 and 3, but Festus will need some more girls to join them under 21:00 in order for them to make a run toward the Gans Creek podium. The incoming freshmen trio of Lucy Boyer (12:39.11 3200m personal best), Kendall Counts (12:43.99) and Bailee Tolbert (12:59.18) will surely help the cause. The senior leadership up front and tradition of excellence could be the X factor for Festus's return to glory.