Farmington's Fuller, Burroughs Boys Win at Fleet Feet CCC

Farmington's Fuller cruises while John Burroughs edges DeSmet, Hillsboro for Boys Title

A year ago, the Hillsboro Hawks made a big statement as they opened last season at the 2022 Fleet Feet Cross Country Classic at Arnold City Park. The Jefferson County school made the 24-mile trip northeast to the park, near the banks of the Meramec River and the border of St. Louis and Jefferson County in Arnold. The Hillsboro boys placed 4 in the top 8 of the 2-mile race and scored just 30 points in a field of 184 finishers and 23 scoring teams from Classes 2, 3, 4, and 5.

That was just a sign of things to come for Tom Gordon's squad. The Hawks followed with a nearly undefeated season. The only time they didn't leave a meet with a win Hillsboro took 2nd at the Gans Creek Classic, right between eventually nationally ranked squads Liberty North and Rock Bridge, who would go on to place 1st and 2nd in the Class 5 state race.

Hillsboro went on to dominate the Class 4 state race, with six runners earning All-State honors. Josh and Jonah Allison led the way finishing 1-3 while the Hawks top six placed 1-3-6-12-15-23 as Hillsboro scored just 35 points to win the state title and emphatically end (Jefferson County rival) Festus' state-record streak of eight straight state titles.

There were no such jaw-dropping statements made at this year's Fleet Feet kickoff meet in Arnold, the first of two back-to-back meets on back-to-back days in Arnold and at Parkway Central High in Chesterfield by hosted by Fleet Feet and Start 2 Finish Events.

However, there were plenty of good performances that athletes and teams can build off while others had finishes short of expectations that will motivate for the next couple of weeks.

2023 Fleet Feet Cross Country Classic

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Hillsboro junior Landon Pogue, one of two returning All-Staters for the Hawks, led early in the 2-mile race (3218-meters) and at nearly 700-meters Seckman's James House and TJ Evans were close behind at 2nd and 3rd while Farmington's Evan Fuller, Vianney's Noah May and Timberland's Maddox Riley closely trailed.

At 1.15 miles/1860 meters Fuller had moved to the front and had a short lead on Pogue, Riley, St. Charles' Nate Maples, House, and John Burroughs' Charles Glatz.

Evan Fuller powered down the homestretch, crossing the finish in 9:56, for a comfortable win with a nearly 12-second margin of victory. Fuller said his focus was to stay with the lead pack early in the race. He said he tends to go out too conservatively and comfortably in cross country races, doubting that he can maintain a quick early pace.

Fuller's admission of his early race issues is admirable acknowledgement from either coaching or self evaluation. More racers need to battle doubts and quick early paces, however, many high school runners have the opposite problem: going out way too quickly, only to not have the training to back up a hot-pace at the start and then quickly fading. Fuller was able to latch on to a couple of runners in the first few hundred meters before taking control about the halfway point.

Fuller is running to add more to the history book of the Farmington Black Knights cross country and track program under longtime coach Jordon Stone. As a junior a year ago, Fuller placed 22nd in the Class 4 state race to lead Farmington to the 4th-place team trophy.

Stone, staff, and the Farmington boys and girls made two trips to the St. Louis area last week. First, the squad made the 56-mile trip North from Farmington for the Fleet Feet meet on Tuesday then on Friday made the 91-mile drive North to St. Charles for the Fort Zumwalt North Twilight meet. Fuller placed 2nd in St. Charles, just 2.5 seconds away from a 2nd victory of the week.

Maddox Riley, the Timberland junior, passed Hillsboro's Pogue in the final 500 meters and placed 2nd in 10:07. Riley is the latest in a string of individual standout boys for the Wolves. He placed 13th in 4:19.83 in the historic 2023 Class 5 state track 1600-meters, which saw 13 boys go under 4:20 and an All-State Top-8 finish required a sub 4:14 clocking. Riley will seek to improve on his Class 5 state cross country 30th-place finish from last fall.