McKenzie, Luna go 1-4 to lead Cor Jesu to Fleet Feet Title

2023 Fleet Feet Cross Country Classic @ Arnold City Park

Cor Jesu State Trophy Streak at Three

Head Coach Katie Helbig, her staff, and the ladies of Cor Jesu have had quite a run the last few Falls. In 2019 the Chargers placed 7th at state in Class 4 and had 3 All-State finishers in Frances (Francie) Luna (Soph-9th), Molly Rolwes (Sr-17th), and Adrienne (Adi) Luna (Fr-18th). A year later in 2020, the first year of the expansion to 5 classes, Cor Jesu scored just 75 points to take 2nd in Class 4 behind West Plains. Sisters Francie, Adi, and Maria Luna placed 4th, 5th, and 14th in their junior, sophomore, and freshman seasons to lead the way. In 2021, Cor Jesu placed 3rd in Class 5 with Francie, Adi, and Maria placing 7th, 19th, and 24th.

Francie graduated in 2022 with a 5k personal record (PR) of 18:10 at Gans Creek and track PRs of 5:04 and 11:00 in 1600 and 3200. She totaled 4 All-State cross country finishes, many more in track, an individual track state title, and a state 4x800 title. She headed to Ole Miss to study business and run for the Rebels. The chances for a 3rd straight state trophy seemed like possibly long odds. However, the Chargers returned veterans Anna Striton, Eva Morie, and Elizabeth Hanson along with Adi and Maria Luna. They also added a talented freshman, Mary McKenzie.

McKenzie stepped right in and made an immediate impact, giving the Chargers another low stick. After an excellent regular season, Cor Jesu shined at Districts and State. They successfully captured a 3rd straight state trophy. Cor Jesu, near Afton, just south of the St. Louis City and County border, pulled out a dramatic and remarkable finish at state. They placed 4th in Class 5 with 120 points, just six ahead of both Rock Bridge and Blue Springs. Freshman Mckenzie led the way taking 7th in 18:50 on the Gans Creek Course. Adi earned a 4th consecutive All-State finish taking 14th while sister Maria earned her 3rd straight taking 22nd.

It wasn't a sure thing as the race played out. It was very dramatic. At 4-kilometers, the Chargers were 5th, two points behind Blue Springs. Senior Anna Striton was in 64th having moved up 16 spots from the 3k mark. Sadly, Striton's body failed her in the final stretch for the second time in three state meets. Striton slowly moved toward the finish before ultimately collapsing. She then valiantly crawled on all fours to the finish. She crossed the finish in 148th, heartbreakingly getting passed by 84 runners in the last 1,000 meters and needing medical attention.

While having a 4th scorer drop 84 places in the final stretch and drop to 7th on the team would almost certainly erode any chance of another top finish, sophomore Elizabeth Hanson and senior Eva Morie came through when needed. Morie, who had placed 33rd and 106th at state the previous two years, moved up 7 places in the final kilometer to place 69th. Sophomore Elizabeth Hanson, who had placed 109th as a freshman in 2021, was clutch. Hanson moved up 26 places and scored 11 fewer points at the finish than where she was at 4k. Morie and Hanson made up big ground to give Cor Jesu a 3rd straight trophy by just 6 points over Rock Bridge and Blue Springs.

In track, the Lunas, Striton, and McKenzie ran to a 3rd-place 4x800 Class 4 state finish and Adi got her own state title like big sister Francie, winning the Class 4 3200 in a PR of 10:54 for the Luna family record. Adi followed her big sister south to the University of Mississippi to run for the Rebels and study business.

2023 Fleet Feet CC Classic Varsity Girls Race

Having lost Francie and Adi, and Striton, and Morie to graduation the last two years and having earned an impressive three straight state cross country trophies, the Cor Jesu ladies opened their 2023 season at the Fleet Feet Cross Country Classic at Arnold City Park. They kicked off their season with a 2-mile race on a muggy day with temperatures in the 80's.