2023 Missouri XC Season Preview: Class 4 Boys

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

Class 4 features a potential showdown between two of the state's perennial powerhouses, some new faces from teams from all over the state at the top, and a solid 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

Isaac Rivera - Lincoln College Prep

After a stacked field of seniors graduated this past spring, Lincoln College Prep's Isaac Rivera appears to be the strongest Class 4 returner standing. But when you look at his personal best time, it may not have mattered who left anyway.

Rivera returns well ahead of the Class 4 pack with a 15:09.82 personal best from last year's Joe Schrag Invitational. He posted sub-16:00 marks in 7 of the 8 races he ran for an average time in 2022 of 15:48, a mark by itself that would be third to only Rivera himself and the next athlete to be profiled, Evan Stevens. The rising senior was fourth behind three seniors at the Class 4 State meet. 

He's coming off a stellar track season, as well, in which he ran 4:23.10 and 9:25.16 in the 1600 and 3200, respectively. Rivera is a heavy favorite for the individual championship - which would be a first for his high school. 

Evan Stevens - Webb City

The lone individual gold medalist among Class 4 returners, Webb City's Evan Stevens is ready to take a massive step forward heading into his senior campaign. 

Stevens finished no worse than 4th at 6 of the 8 meets he contested, including wins at the Carthage Invitational and Class 4 District 2 meet. He also picked up 3rd at Richard Clark, Camdenton, and the COC XC Championship. He was 4th in the Gans Creek Gold Division and 11th at the Class 4 State meet. 

His 15:38.41 is second best among Class 4 returners, but what really makes him a contender for the crown this November is the Class 4 3200 meter championship he earned this spring. In fact, Stevens won 8 of his 9 3200 meter races this track season, losing only at the prestigious Kansas Relays. No stranger to the top spot, watch for this Redbird to carry on a legacy of superstardom in the 2023 cross-country season. 


Liam Adair - Smithville

Smithville junior Liam Adair is ever-so-quietly climbing the ranks among Class 4 juggernauts and should be considered a contender for state gold this year, too. 

As a sophomore, Adair cleared the finish line at state in 5th place, just behind top returners Isaac Rivera. His 15:57.10 mark was a few ticks off his 15:50.91 personal best from the Missouri Southern Stampede but puts him among the top Class 4 returners nonetheless. 

Adair's breakthrough really took shape on the oval this spring where he ran 4:22.55 for 6th and 9:23.01 for 3rd in the Class 4 1600 and 3200 meter races, respectively. We're certainly watching to see what this Smithville Warrior brings to the party this fall. 


Andrew Johnson - Platte County

Just behind Evan Stevens on time among Class 4 returners in the 3200 is Platte County's Andrew Johnson. This spring, Johnson broke out in a big way when he torched the track to a 9:18.79, just a nose-hair off of Stevens' personal best of 9:18.66. 

Johnson's massive time-drop in the 2 mile was not random, though, as he was coming off a cross country campaign in which he ran a 15:42.60 personal best for the win in the Bronze division of the Garmin RunningLane Championships. He could also boast victories at the Grain Valley "Sock It To Cancer" Invitational, KC Suburban Red/White Division meet, and Class 4 District 4 meet. The District 4 victory was a 30-second victory over Rivera and 40 seconds ahead of Adair. He was 8th at the Class 4 State meet in November.

A fool sleeps on this Platte County senior as he has shown he has the tools to run with the best and put it all together when it matters the most. 


Cameron Martensen - Rolla

Rolla's Cameron Martensen's 2022 cross-country season absolutely lived up to the hype. 

Entering the fall as one of the most promising incoming freshmen we had seen in several years, Martensen showed that his middle school success was no fluke. He made an early mark with a 16:22.62 debut at the Richard Clark Invitational and never ran slower than 16:35.60 all season. He finished with a 15:55.23 personal best and eventually snagged a 7th-place medal at state with his 16:01.20 mark. He is fourth in Missouri State History among freshmen, according to our database, behind only Andrew Hauser, Austin Hindman, and Caleb Hoover.  

Martensen's success carried over into track season as he ran impressive 4:25.82 and 9:33.01 marks. He appears ready to keep the good times rolling into his sophomore campaign.


Nate Maples - St. Charles

St. Charles senior Nate Maples finally had that breakthrough race that he needed...and it came at exactly the right time. 

Maples was a strong competitor throughout the 2022 campaign after a rust-buster Forest Park performance and a trip to JV for the Fulton Invitational. He then picked up decisive wins at the Ed White Warrior Classic and North Callaway Invitational. He then added a GAC North title and Class 4 District 3 title to his resume and posted a 19th place finish at the Class 4 State meet. 

His 16:14.70 personal best is 6th among returners and, coupled with a 4:33.66/9:51.42 line from this track season, should plant him firmly in the top 10 conversation if not top 5 heading into the 2023 season. 

Carson Driemeier - Festus

The torch has been passed - sophomore Carson Driemeier is your new front-runner/leader of the Festus Tigers Dynasty. 

With the graduations of Tate Riney, Cullen Krieg, and Ian Schram, and two years removed from Jacob Meyers, Driemeier is now the man in charge of leading Festus back to the top of the podium in 2023. His was a similarly strong middle school career (compared to Rolla's Martensen), and he was also able to live up to the hype. After a decent start to the season, a huge 16:36.50 personal best at Chile Pepper pushed Driemeier into the consistent mid-16s. He ended up with a 16:26.50 personal best at State, where he finished 13th as the #2 for the team. 

A massive 9:27.85 3200 personal best has us waiting with bated breath to see what this Tiger has in store for us this fall. 



Freshmen To Watch

Axtin Brune - Farmington

Incoming freshman Axtin Brune is going to be a major wild card for Farmington as they hope to return to the podium this fall. 

The Knights graduated two key runners from their top 7 but will pick up one of the top middle schoolers in the state in Brune. With personal best marks of 9:46.03 in the 3000m Run and 11:39.19 in the 3200 on the track, Brune could absolutely be that replacement piece that Farmington needs to snag a top 4 trophy again in 2023.


Mason Bliss - Washington

Washington also appears to be getting help from their middle school team this fall, starting with Mason Bliss.

Bliss comes in as arguably the top middle schooler from the 2022 cross country season after he posted personal best marks of 10:42.99 in the 3200, 10:56.20 in the 3000, and 9:11.71 in the 2500. He was undefeated in all 6 races he ran and should be a difference-maker for the Blue Jays this season.



Top 4 Teams

West Plains

The Zizzers are 100% back. 

After a few years of 2nd's and 3rd's, a few years off the podium, it appears that the perennial powerhouse that is West Plains has completed its rebuild and is ready to reclaim its rightful spot atop the MSHSAA Cross Country State podium. A win this year would be their 14th in school history and first since 2008. 

It's a tight-knit group of sophomores and juniors that make up this contingent, with Hoyt Stiner, Carson King, Jackson Free, and Kyler Gunter all coming in within 23 seconds of each other. Stiner is the top returner with his 16:31.50 personal best, but Gunter has run the fastest 3200 of the bunch at 9:53.09. 

Nonetheless, the Zizzers will have to rely on their young crop of athletes coming up from the JV and Middle School ranks, including incoming freshman Levi Batchelor, to boost the depth and solidify their position. It may be a vintage squad with no clear frontrunners and a tight pack near the front of every race, but that hasn't stopped some other teams from still winning it all. Expect a lot of red-and-white candy stripes and a 1-5 average under 45 seconds at Gans Creek this November, and possibly another West Plains state title.



Another team vying for a return to the top of the Class 4 podium is Festus. Their hiatus, though, has been much, much shorter. 

Dethroned by inner-county and conference rival, Hillsboro, Festus enjoyed an unprecedented 8 straight years as the MSHSAA State Champion in Classes 3 and 4. Their reign came to an end in 2023, but even with the graduation of several key seniors, the Tigers are still a favorite to earn that 9th first-place trophy in 10 years.

Driemeier leads the way, as mentioned previously, and will have to rely on help from the likes of Tate Uding, Bryson Rhine, Lucas Campbell, and Jimmy Wacker, among others. It's another tight squad with personal bests ranging from 16:26 to 17:10, if you include Rhine's 16:51 mark from 2021. It's also a group that, with a sub-16 low-stick and the kind of progression we've seen from other Festus teams, could actually run away with the championship and nobody would be surprised. 

It's a historic program with a track record of success at the highest level. Never count them out. 


Lincoln College Prep

It's certainly been a fun ride watching this Lincoln College Prep team, led by superstar Isaac Rivera, rise through the ranks to become one of the state's top teams heading into the 2023 season. They return a solid core of 4 with Truman Medina, Coleman Keck, and Roman Garcia providing important insurance for their low-man Rivera. Those three come in all under 17:00 from last season and showed no signs of slowing this track season. 

The biggest key to Lincoln's success will be finding that 5th man to help them put it all together. Right now, it appears to be one of Trubey Barr or Romulus Martinez, and if it isn't one of them, they start to dig into some 20:00 runners for help. 

Either way, Lincoln looks like it will be a tough team to manage in 2023 and a true title contender. They are already the state champions of athlete names, if you ask us. 


Webster Groves

The Long Orange Line will be right on the cusp of Class 4 and 5 once again this fall but could lean toward Class 4 once again. If so, that will bode very well for the Statesmen's hopes of heading home with a trophy this November. 

The 54-runner-strong Webster Groves team is led by top returner Corbin Cole, a junior who finished in 48th at last year's Class 4 State meet. The squad's depth is what will bring them into the Class 4 title fold as there are 9 more boys behind him under 18:00 and another 7 under 19:00. Max Kilstrom and Dominic Buckman are the next two for the Statesmen and important pieces to the team's success.

Webster hasn't been to the award stand since 1970 and could very well end the 53-year drought with this squad. Keep an eye on them as they progress through the 2023 season.


Dark Horse Team To Watch


One year after completing one of the most dominant and impressive seasons in state history, Hillsboro has been pushed down the returner ranks as a result of the loss of a significant amount of seniors from their top 7. Even with a near-complete retool on hand, they appear to still be a dark horse candidate for a podium spot in 2023. 

Led by junior Landon Pogue and seniors Gregory Mann and Clayton Schneider, Hillsboro is honestly a 4th and 5th man away from competing for the victory again this season. Will it be as convincing as last year's win? Maybe not. But a win is a win and the reigning champs could absolutely find a way and find themselves on top this year.