2023 Missouri XC Season Preview: Class 2 Boys

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

Class 2 features four boys within ten seconds of the top spot among returners, a new face making a run at the team title, and at least one potential game-changer freshman in the mix out of, where else but Southeast Missouri

Take a look at the athletes, teams, and storylines to watch for in Class 2 this season. Check the links below for all of this year's preview articles for the 2023 Missouri XC season!


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

Reed Layton - Woodland

The top of the Class 2 ranks will look very different this season as 9 of the top 11 finishers at the Class 2 State meet graduated this past spring. One of those top 11 finishers who remains, though, is Woodland's Reed Layton. 

Layton returns as the top finisher from last year's state meet (4th) and the 2nd fastest among Class 2 boys. His 16:37.83 for the District 1 victory last year is less than a second behind the fastest returner. Layton was also SCAA Conference champion and added a victory at Heartland Conference meet. 

After 4:36.54 and 10:04.80 personal bests in the 1600 and 3200, Layton has already kicked off his 2023 Cross Country campaign strongly with a 17:00.47 at the Memphis Twilight Classic. Heading into the 2023 Cross Country season, he's ready to snag the top spot in Class 2, but should have several challengers as the Class 2 boys races is wide open this year.


Jaxson Jobe - Calvary Lutheran

Calvary Lutheran's Jaxson Jobe is the fastest returner among Class 2 boys with his 16:37.00 personal best from last year's Smithton Pumpkin Run. Though it is his only sub-17:00 mark, it was good enough to station him atop the Class 2 ranks heading into the 2023 season. 

Jobe's second best mark of the season came on the Gans Creek course when it mattered most - he ran 17:24.80 for 15th place overall. He should be considered among the cluster of boys vying for Class 2 supremacy this fall.


Rydan Deckard - Alton

The only other finisher in the top 11 at last year's Class 2 State meet who is returning for the 2023 season, Rydan Deckard came down to Alton from Raymore-Peculiar last fall and made an instant impact. 

Deckard was considered a sneaky pick for the Class 2 individual title last fall after heading into the meet with a 16:44.97 personal best and five meet victories to his name. He had not finished worse than 2nd in any meet, but ended up 7th on the day at the Class 2 State meet, cruising across the line in 17:06.30. 

This fall, he has already posted a 17:28.70 mark for 2nd at the Fellows Lake 5000, finishing behind Class 1's Landon Duchscherer in a major breakthrough race for him. Watch for Deckard to assert himself as a force in Class 2 this season.


Noah Wilt - South Shelby

South Shelby's Noah Wilt is among only four Class 2 boys heading into the 2023 season with sub-17:00 marks under their belt as he has posted a 16:47.30 best.

Wilt's two-year high school career has been very busy has he has posted over 90 marks already in events ranging from the 400 meters, to the high and triple jumps, to the discus, all three distance track events, and all the way up to the 5000 meters on the cross country course. He's also tried his hand in the pole vault and 300 meter hurdles. His pertinent track personal bests are 2:07.93, 4:39.86, 10:26.96 in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter runs, respectively. This fall, he'll be looking to improve on his 14th place finish at the 2022 Class 2 State meet and should be poised to break into the top 5. 


Logan Robison - Puxico

The top returner for the top returning squad in Class 2, Puxico's Logan Robison is leading the way for a team that is looking to make a quick rise to the podium after only forming their team four years ago. 

Robison owns a personal best of 17:05.08 from last year's District 1 meet, which he will be looking to build on this fall as he hopes to finish on the medal stand this year. No track team for the Puxico Indians just yet, but that should not instill doubt that Robison will be among the challengers for the Class 2 crown this season.


Marcus Verbrugge - Summit Christian Academy

Originally a long sprinter, Summit Christian's Marcus Verbrugge tried his hand at Cross Country last fall and it paid off for him. Verbrugge finished out his first campaign on the course with a 17:22.70 personal best at the Class 2 State meet, good enough for a 12th place finish overall. 

The Cross Country work paid off for him as he was able to improve in the 400 meter dash to 50.94 and move up to the 800, where he ran 2:02.41 for 8th at the Class 2 State track meet. He was 5th in the 400 at the State meet, as well. 

The dual sport soccer/cross country athlete made his debut at Belton this Saturday, from which MileSplit is still working on acquiring results, and should be in attendance at Knob Noster this Saturday. Keep an eye on how he progresses this fall as a challenger for Class 2 supremacy.


Sam Northcutt - Mark Twain

Mark Twain's Sam Northcutt heads into his junior season with a 17:06.20 personal best and will be looking to improve on a 57th and 56th place finishes at the Class 2 State meet over the last two years. This spring, Northcutt focused solely on the 800, running it 15 times, winning 9, and finishing 10th at the Class 2 State track meet. He finished the season with a personal best of 2:02.19. Northcutt will certainly be one to watch as he builds off his 18:26.83 opener from Saturday's Mexico Fall Invitational.

Incoming Freshmen To Watch

Carter Hennemann - St. Vincent

Carter Hennemann put up solid numbers at Perry County Middle last fall and spring before landing at St. Vincent de Paul High School this fall. In two early season meets, he has already made a name for himself as a freshman to watch in 2023. Hennemann ran 11:22.20 for 2nd in the 1.95 mile at Jackson on the 26th and followed it up with an 18:12.44 5K debut at his home invitational. He ran 11:34.55 for 3200 meters last fall and 10:46.75 for 3000 meters, to go along with impressive 2:14.33 and 4:45.78 personal bests on the track.


Top 4 Teams


The top ranked team in Class 2 heading into the 2023 season is the crew from Puxico, a town just northeast of Poplar Bluff. 

In only their fifth year with a squad, Puxico has put together a solid program, even if there are only 8 boys on the roster. They are led by Logan Robison - a top 5 returner by time - and rising sophomore Jett Hancock. Hancock returns with a personal best of 17:22.86. Kaysen and Karsen Long are a solid brotherly duo at #3 and #4 and Avery Hancock, who sits at 19:05.81 at the moment, will hope to make it 5 boys under 18:30 this year. If they can put all five under 18:00, they will have a shot at the podium, and potentially the top spot on the podium.



Led by Reed and his brother Calvin, Woodland will benefit mightily from the Laytons this fall as they look to climb up to the awards stand for the first time since 2016.

Reed is a contender for 1 point, which helps mightily, while Calvin heads into his sophomore campaign among the best Class of 2026ers in the field with a 17:13.67 personal best. He was 21st at the Class 2 State meet last fall. Bryer Sauls is their third fastest returner, but early on, it is junior Hayden Vangennip who appears to be carrying the #3 torch for the Cardinals. Drew Garner also had a strong showing at the Memphis Twilight this past Saturday. 

The Laytons already appear to be in mid-season form and should really carry this team along. The role players could carry them all the way to the top come November.



Steelville lost two key pieces to graduation in 2022 State Champion Conner Diaz and #2 man Wyatt Harris, but they return #3-7 from a team that finished 3rd at the Class 2 State meet. 

Steelville's top returner is Vincent Lorraine at 18:08.60 and their fifth man, Curtis Bailey, is a mere 1:03 away, creating a solid front pack for these Cardinals. Expect them to pack up and maneuver themselves into a podium spot once again in 2023. It would be their 11th team trophy in school history and 5th in a row.


North Platte

North Platte is strong once again in 2023, returning 6 of the 7 boys who finished 4th in Class 2 in 2022. 

The purple and gold Panthers are led by Noah Heckman at 17:05.90 from his sophomore campaign and Drake Keraus at 18:34.20. Heckman was 19th as a junior last November. They have added some depth to the squad and will hope to build off a solid showing at the Tim Nixon Invitational in which Heckman tied his 2022 season best and Keraus ran a 1:19 personal best, among other strong performances. North Platte earned their first boys' trophy in school history last fall and are in a good spot to pick up their second one in a row.  


Dark Horse Team To Watch


While their girls cannot really hide from their preseason ranking, the Lexington boys will be a dark horse pick to surprise the state this year. 

Conner Soendker is the top returner with an 18:26.90, but a 10:22.31 3200 this track season will have the now-sophomore eyeing much faster times this fall. He has already run 10:17.97 around the 3K loop at the Gans Creek course at the COMO Kickoff. Chael Lichte is also due for a breakthrough this fall after running 11:02 in the 3200 this spring. He owns a personal best of 18:57.40, but that should come down significantly, especially after a 9:59.58 3K at the COMO Kickoff. These two sophomores will surely carry the Minutemen up the Class 2 rankings, as long as their role players can provide some aide.