The 2023 season is officially upon us! We are ready to preview all of the craziness that comes with it.
Class 2 features a laundry list of girls competing for the State title, some familiar teams among the mix for state hardware, and an intriguing story to follow with the reigning state champions in their quest to repeat.
Take a look at the athletes, teams, and storylines to watch for in Class 2 this season. The final classes will be released over the coming days.
2023 MISSOURI XC PREVIEWS:
Top 7 Contenders
Metro (St. Louis) junior Yuri Malone snuck in for 25th place at the Class 2 State Cross Country meet her freshman year. She parlayed that success into a massive freshman track season and 6th place at the State Cross Country meet in 2022.
Malone heads into the 2023 season with track personal bests of 2:33.34, 5:29.62, and 11:44.05 from that freshman campaign, and a 19:30.90 5K best from last fall. She is the top returner by time this year, but there are several girls within a small window of time so it is going to take a next level effort to pull off the win. Malone has shown she has the chops to be the Class 2 frontrunner.
In their first year with a cross country program in 15 years, Brentwood's Kensington Curd had an instant impact on the St. Louis Metro area and Missouri as a whole.
Curd ended her freshman season as the second fastest Class 2 returner with a 19:38.30 personal best on the always fast Arnold City Park course. She followed that mark up with four more sub-20:00 marks, a win at the prestigious Hancock Invitational, and a 4th place medal at the Class 2 State meet.
Curd's track season was equally impressive with 5:24.94 and 12:02.86 bests in the 1600 and 3200, respectively. She picked up a 7th place medal in the 1600, but finished the dreaded 9th in the 3200. Curd kicked off her 2023 season with a decisive win at the Parkway Central Fleet Feet CC Classic 2 Mile in 12:29.60. She's already showing her chops and should be a force wherever she goes this season.
After not making it past her home invitational on October 6th in 2020, Hermann senior Amelia Uthlaut has finished in 3rd place at the Class 2 State meet each of the past two seasons. Last season's bronze was in 19:39.40, her lifetime best and only sub-20:00 mark she recorded in 2022.
Uthlaut has the track resume to back up the cross country success with personal bests on the oval of 2:26.53, 5:33.19, and 11:41.32. She was notably absent during the entire 2023 track season, but has opened up her 2023 cross country season with a 22:03.70 rust-buster at New Haven. Experience tends to bode well when they get to the state meet and Uthlaut is no stranger to the bright lights. We expect her to progress back to that state title contender level she's been at the last two years.
The younger sister of Class 2 legend Alex Sharp, Samantha Sharp quickly made a name for herself her freshman year in 2021 with an 18:55.80 personal best at the Gans Creek Classic and 13th place finish in the Gold Division. After missing the state meet that year, even though she qualified through the district meet, she competed in one March meet in 2022.
Last fall, Sharp was able to build back up to the low-20s and stayed consistent throughout the season between 20:03-20:43. She ended up 5th at the Class 2 State meet in 20:03.70 and was able to parlay that into a very successful sophomore track campaign. Sharp now boasts track bests of 2:27.97, 5:25.67, and 11:46.38 after a very full 2023 season and should be on all the Class 2 coaches' radars as she eyes a return to the 18s and possibly a run at an individual title this fall.
Jefferson's Emerson Selsor heads into the 2023 season only 8 seconds off of the top returner based on 2022 times and could be an upset candidate this fall.
Selsor ran a personal best 19:38.50 as a freshman last season, but came across the line at the Class 2 State meet in 21:10.60 for 20th overall. Her first high school track season was solid as she qualified for the Class 2 State track meet in the 1600 and 3200 while finishing out her season with personal bests of 5:30.60 and 12:20.21, respectively. Selsor has only one race in her entire high school career so far, with several runner-up finishes, but this year she should be one to watch among the top Class 2 girls vying for state gold.
Another strong one in the Class 2 Class of 2026, the second part of Metro's dynamic duo is Lucy Luetkemeyer.
Luetkemeyer was the model of consistency as a freshman, running a personal best 19:50.38 on the fairly challenging Parkway West course, but also running no slower than 20:23 after her 5k debut on September 7th. She finished 8th at the Class 2 State meet in 20:19.50.
Her track season has us on high alert as the freshman put up an 11:31.26 mark in the 3200 en route to a 4th place finish at the Class 3 State track meet. She also ran 5:26.01 as she won both the 1600 and 3200 at the Class 3 District 2 meet. Both times she was ahead of her teammate Yuri Malone, who is profiled here as the top Class 2 contender heading into the season. Do not be surprised if Luetkemeyer takes a major leap forward this fall and climbs all the way to the top of the Class 2 ranks in her own right.
North Platte sophomore is already asserting herself as a force in Class 2. Last season, she posted a 20:14.80 personal best in her season opener at the Tim Nixon Invitational and finished out the season in 20:16.00 for 7th at the Class 2 State meet. In 2023, she has already run 13:21 at her home 2 Mile and a new personal best 5K of 19:52.30 at Tim Nixon. The new course is quick, but that puts her firmly at the top of the Class 2 ranks already.
Heckman's early success may be a result of an 11:36.13 3200 best from this spring. She was 3rd in the event at the Class 2 State meet and is showing that she is going to be a force over the next three years.
Incoming Freshmen To Watch
Ash Grove's Millison Sapp is one to watch this fall as she will head into the 2023 season with a personal best in the XC 3200 of 12:30.50. She earned 2nd in the Class 1-2 race at the Missouri Middle School Championships, well ahead of 3rd place. She's run 2:37 and 5:43 in the 800 and 1600, as well, strong marks among the Class 2 incomers. Sapp could make an immediate impact on the Class 2 landscape when she debuts at her home meet this Thursday.
Top 4 Teams
After picking up their first trophy in program history - a Class 2 4th place plaque - the Lexington Minutewomen are returning the strongest group in 2023.
Led by the freshman trio of Zoey Earnest, Tessa Lovell, and Kathryn Carter, Lexington doesn't necessarily boast a clear front-runner who will be challenging for a state title, but they do have three strong all-state contenders. Lovell was their only all-stater last season with her 25th place finish. Earnest was their #7 on the day, well back of her 21:20.00 personal best, but if she is at full strength in 2023, she may just be able to guide her squad to the top of the awards stand.
The Jefferson Lady Jays are another team who have only experienced the state podium once in their school's history - a Class 2 3rd place finish in 2018 - but they have the chops to hop back on the stand in 2023.
In 2022, they made it to the Class 2 State meet with 5 freshmen and 2 sophomores. Selsor leads the way and will be a key low-scorer for the group who will continue to build experience throughout the year. Payton Easter, Addison Meyer, Addison Beffa, and Mia Tindall are the next four coming back for the Jays. They will be looking to make a big leap from 13th to the top 4 at State this fall.
Stockton's boys have enjoyed a stellar run of success over the last decade, but the girls have not had the same experiences, at least since their run of 3 straight podium finishes in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
This year, they are a top 4 team in Class 2 heading into the season. Katelyn Chism finished 24th at the Class 2 State meet last fall and is their top returner with her 21:23.90 personal best. She finished 15th at the Class 2 State track meet in the 3200 this spring in 13:11.84. Nikayla Hare is another key sub-22 returner who will play a major role in their success. Faith King will be looking to build off a 13:20.78 3200 best this spring as she comes in as their key #3.
Stockton opened up this weekend at the SWCCCA Invitational without Chism and Hare. Watch for them to climb the Class 2 ranks throughout the season when those two are back in the mix.
The Class 2 runner-ups last season, Hermann is losing a couple of very important pieces to graduation, but they return enough pieces to make them a sneaky podium squad again in 2023.
The key will be finding a number 5 that can help them get there. Amelia Uthlaut could potentially score 1 point for the Bearcats, but their 5th returner will most likely score over 100 as it stands heading into the season. Amelia's sister Elaina Uthlaut is carrying on the family legacy of success as their 2nd best returner, with Alaina Heaney and Jocelyn Neill very close behind. Freshman Cecilia Shepard may be the piece they need as she debuted at 23:49.58 at New Haven this Saturday.
Dark Horse Team To Watch
North Platte is the reigning Class 2 State Champions, but are losing a couple of key seniors, which pushes them down among the Class 2 ranks heading into the 2023 season. As it stands, Heckman and Brianna Debord are the dynamic duo up front, with Lily Schaffart at 23:32.90, but the 1-5 gap of nearly 10:00 is not going to push them back to the top. They will certainly need help, but should the Lady Panthers reload, expect to see them climbing atop the podium once again in 2023.