The 2023 season is officially upon us! We are ready to preview all of the craziness that comes with it.
Class 1 features several 2022 freshmen coming back to compete for the individual title, a team going for its fifth straight team trophy, and a game-changer freshman or three coming to shake up the scene.
Take a look at the athletes, teams, and storylines to watch for in Class 1 this season. The final classes will be released over the coming days.
2023 MISSOURI XC PREVIEWS:
Top 7 Contenders
In what many in attendance will remember as a historic comeback, Stoutland freshman Mallory Shaw, with her full mane of hair bouncing along with each step, the kind of hair that would bring a tear to Greg Hall's eye, crossed the finish line first for the Class 1 State Championship in 2023. Shaw was 7th as she crossed the 4K mark, but dropped the only sub-4:00 final K of anyone in the race - a 3:50 - to track down the crown.
Now a sophomore, Shaw enters the season as the 6th fastest Class 1 returner with her 20:32.95 best, but she has already shattered that mark this year with a 19:56.39 personal best at this past Saturday's SWCCCA Richard Clark Invitational. She earned 8th, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes on the track at this year's Class 1 State track meet and ran 2:27.87, 5:25.13, and 12:04.03. Expect Shaw to be a force in Class 1 once again this fall.
A piece of a dynamic trio that led South Nodaway/Jefferson Conception Junction all the way to the top of the Class 1 ranks in 2023, Mya Wray is back for her sophomore season and another run at an individual Cross Country title of her own.
Wray is the top returner in Class 1 by time with a 19:35.10 mark to her name from the 275 Conference meet. She is also now a two-time state champion on the track after rolling to Class 1 titles in the 1600 (5:18.99) and 3200 (11:43.72). She won 20 times during the 2023 track season, losing only twice.
A proven winner so far in her young career, Wray should be considered a major contender for the Class 1 crown this year.
The second fastest time among Class 1 returners belongs to Glasgow junior Addison Barringhaus. At 19:49.61, Barringhaus is firmly positioned among the cream of the crop among the Class 1 title contenders.
Barringhaus finished 10th at last year's Class 1 State meet after finishing 2nd in 2021. She went on to post personal bests on the track of 2:32.43, 5:41.10, and 12:17.17, earning all-state honors in the 1600 (8th) and 3200 (5th). Watch for her to push back into the single digit places as she hopes to lead her Yellowjacket squad to the podium once again.
Kastin Cleaver heads into the 2023 season as the leader of the now-mainstay Class 1 powerhouse Van Buren Bulldogs. Last year on the Gans Creek course, she ran 21:24.20 for 11th, but has finished has high as 3rd at the state meet in her young career.
A sprinter through and through this past spring, Cleaver showed off the wheels with 13.03, 26.07, and 1:02.96 bests in the 100, 200, and 400, respectively. Pair that with a 20:11.00 personal best 5K and you may have one of the more well-rounded athletes in the state. Let's just say - if it comes down to a sprint, we're betting on Cleaver to pull out the win.
Chadwick's Gretchen House led most of last year's Class 1 State meet, but was overtaken just before the 4K, and fell back to a very respectable 6th in 21:03.70. It was about 30 seconds off her 20:28.16 personal best.
The sophomore had a shorter track season than she had in 2022 when she ran 2:31.85, 5:30.23, and 12:15.93, picking up all-state medals in the 1600 and 3200. Now a junior, watch for House to continue to attack every meet she enters and contend for the Class 1 State title once again this fall.
A Cross Country specialist, Calvary Lutheran's Sonya Brunner had a breakthrough sophomore campaign in 2022. After finishing 34th at Class 1 State meet in 2021 and only recording one mark under 22:00, she she posted 10 marks under 22:00 in 2022, headlined by her personal best of 20:25.00 at the quick Smithton Pumpkin Run. Brunner also finished in 7th place at the Class 1 State meet.
So far in 2023, Brunner has picked up right where she left off with a 21:40.81 mark at the New Haven Invitational over the weekend. Watch for the Calvary Lutheran junior to make some more noise at the Class 1 level this fall.
In her first high school cross country campaign, Bernie freshman Ella Harris put herself among the best of the best in Class 1 with a 20:39.58 personal best and 12th place finish at the Class 1 State meet. Another one who does not participate in track (probably because Bernie does not offer track in the spring), we will be watching to see what Harris can put together for her sophomore campaign. She busted the rust at the Barry Cody Bootheel Classic last Thursday afternoon and should be in attendance at Clearwater on Wednesday.
Incoming Freshmen To Watch
Already with two strong 5K performances to her name in 2023, Montrose's Kate Wareham has already shown that she is a freshman to watch in Class 1 this fall. At the SWCCCA Richard Clark Invitational on Saturday, Wareham posted a 21:47.99 mark, already good enough 5th in Class 1 at the moment.
Wareham came into the season with personal bests of 2:39.9 and 5:57.20 on the track to go along with 12:59.70 (3200m) and 9:50.61 (2500m) bests on the course.
Three freshmen on the watch list for Class 1! Fitting when you consider so many strong freshmen emerged last season. Dora's Isabelle Martin will be one to watch as she heads into her high school career with personal bests of 10:06.60 for 2500 meters, 13:53.23 for 3200 meters, and 17:08.70 for 4000 meters. She has already run 22:43.80 at the SWCCCA Richard Clark Invitational.
Top 4 Teams
Van Buren has been holding down a spot near the top of the Class 1 ranks over the last four years and it does not appear that 2023 will be much different. The 2021 Class 1 Champions, Van Buren was the runner-up last season by a mere 8 points to South Nodaway. They were fourth in both 2019 and 2020.
Led by Kastin Cleaver and Ziah Been, the Lady Bulldogs will pack a powerful punch up front. Been returns with a 21:17.21 personal best and finished 17th at last year's Class 1 State meet. Not too far behind is senior Adria Marvin, who is just a tick over 22 minutes at 22:01.58 and finished 28th last November. Kinsley Murphy makes it four girls among the scoring top 10 returners in the state in Class 1.
With experience on the Gans Creek course in November, and a talented group of ladies coming back, Van Buren is the pre-season favorite for the Class 1 team title in 2023.
Oak Ridge returns only five girls from the 2022 season, but the five they return are good enough to rank them second heading into the 2023 season.
The Lady Jays do not have the top flight low-stick that other teams may have, but they make up for it with a solid enough pack to score the points necessary for state level success. They finished 7th as a team last year without a single girl in the top 60 individually. Led by senior Kendall Marshall at 22:41.99, Oak Ridge should be a steady presence among the Class 1 ranks this fall as they seek out their first team trophy on the girls' side in school history.
Liberal was already returning a top 4 caliber team in Class 1, but they will get a huge boost from incoming freshman Ally Barton. Barton will fit in nicely with returning all-stater Taylor Swarnes, who heads into the 2023 season with a 21:38.00 best to her name. The Lady Bulldogs will look for a few more sub-23s at 3, 4, and 5 as their next 3 best returners come in between 23:30 and 24:20. Should that group progress to sub-23, Barton and Swarnes will carry the torch and potentially propel Liberal to their second ever team trophy and first since 2017.
By what was nearly the closest of margins, the 2022 Glasgow Lady Yellowjackets grabbed the 4th trophy in Class 1 on the 6th runner tiebreaker. Their 6th runner scored 54 points while 5th place Principia's #6 scored 59.
This year, Glasgow returns frontrunner Addison Barringhaus and a cast of role players who finished out the year within 33 seconds of each other. They will hope to add on depth to help out the squad and post a 6th runner who can earn them a trophy for the third straight year this fall.
Dark Horse Team To Watch
The reigning state champs are returning 4 of the 5 girls they brought with them in 2022 and have fortunately added a 5th girl for the 2023 season. Led by Mya Wray and Allison Riley, South Nodaway has a good shot at repeating as state champions this fall. Riley, the sister of legendary Class 1 harrier Ashley Riley and 2023 grad Andrea, was 29th last year and returns with a 21:39.60 best. Emalee Langford and Mylie Holtman are the other two returning sophomores with experience at the state level that could carrier them back to the top.