2023 MSHSAA State Championships Preview: Class 5 Boys

The 2023 MSHSAA State Championships are finally upon us and we are excited for another thrilling and chilly November weekend of racing!

This year's Class 5 Boys State Championship will be the penultimate race of the weekend with a 1:30 start time on Saturday. The race features one of the, if not the, deepest fields of talented athletes and teams coming off an exceptionally fast weekend of District racing. 



BOYS: Class 5 | Class 4 | Class 3 | Class 2 | Class 1
GIRLS: Class 5 | Class 4 | Class 3 | Class 2 | Class 1


Check out our preview of the field, with District champions highlighted and the other major contenders discussed among the strong field of candidates. This year, the Top 4 teams will still continue to be honored with a trophy, but a new development means the Top 30 athletes will be honored with medals. According to MileSplit's rankings, the 30th fastest runner in Class 5 Boys is currently 15:49.07.



The District Champs - Individuals

Levi Rowan - Kirkwood

Kirkwood's Levi Rowan has enjoyed a massive breakout senior campaign after finishing 35th at the Class 5 State Championships as a junior. He has posted five sub-16:00 performances in six tries so far and picked up victories at the Stan Nelson Invitational, Fulton Invitational, STL Suburban Championships, and Class 5 District 1 meet. His blazing fast 15:05.80 mark from the District 1 meet is MO No. 3 among Class 5 runners, behind only two Olathe Twilight times on what many are calling a short course. Rowan is peaking at the exact right time and should be considered a major contender for Kirkwood's first individual crown since Christian Baker won in 2018. 


Aaron Ashley - Nixa

The No. 2 returner for the Eagles heading into the season, Aaron Ashley has been the consistent low-stick that Nixa has needed to compete at every meet they have attended in 2023. Ashley has picked up individual victories at the SWCCCA Richard Clark Invitational and Class 5 District 2 meet, to go along with runner-ups at the Missouri Southern Stampede and Cedar Ridge Invitational. He has posted five sub-16:00 marks, as well, with his 15:19.03 best coming on the Rutledge XC course at Missouri Southern. His 15:32.32 at the District meet earned him revenge over the Joplin duo of Ian Horton and Chance Tindall, who came in ahead of him at the COC XC Championship. Ashley is another one who was not on the individual title radar heading into the campaign, but is a strong contender to make it happen on Saturday.


Andrew Hauser - Rock Bridge

Andrew Hauser has been a mainstay on preseason and state meet previews since his sophomore year and this season has been no different. It could be considered a ho-hum season for Hauser this fall as he has dipped under 15:00 once again at the Olathe Twilight and posted a 15:16 average time over his six meets. He has victories to his name at the Memphis Twilight Classic, CMAC Championship, and Class 5 District 3 meet, along with a runner-up finish at the Olathe Twilight and a third-place finish in the Gans Creek Gold race. The Mizzou commit will get one last shot on his current and future home course to secure a state title this weekend - adding another to the three individual state golds he already owns.


Henry Acorn - Rockhurst

Rockhurst's Henry Acorn was among the contenders for the Class 5 individual title and has lived up to the hype in his junior campaign. Acorn is leading a surging Hawklets squad to a showdown with the state's best as he seems to be picking up his full head of steam just at the right time. With five sub-16:00 performances and a 16:01.10 for the District 4 win, Acorn has shown consistency throughout the 2023 season, averaging 15:36 in his six races, and has the 15:13.39 best to his name (albeit on a confirmed 3.07-mile course) to put himself firmly in the individual champion conversation this Saturday. 


The District Champs - Teams


We have already profiled Kirkwood frontman Levi Rowan, but the supporting cast behind him has pushed Kirkwood near the top of the rankings in the St. Louis metro area. The Pioneers posted a decisive District 1 win, 31 points ahead of runner-up Eureka, and 45 clear of Parkway South and Lafayette. Peyton Ferkel and Joseph Harrison have taken major strides to push Kirkwood forward this year, sitting at 15:54 and 16:00 respectively. Sophomore Charles Larson is a solid No. 4 at 16:28, but they will need some help at No. 5 if they hope to climb into the trophy conversation this weekend. For right now, Kirkwood is a solid mid-table crew with three guys in the all-state conversation, one of whom is in the Top 3 conversation. They could surprise some folks with another great day like they had this past weekend.



Nixa's boys have absolutely lived up to the hype this season and are rolling right into a showdown for their first-ever state cross country crown on Saturday. Led by the aforementioned Aaron Ashley, Nixa has 8 boys who have run 16:20 or better this season, including a top 5 that can boast a 15:50 1-5 average. They won the District 2 meet by 23 points over Raymore-Peculiar and came in 32 ahead of Lee's Summit and 43 ahead of Class 5 newcomer Webb City. On Saturday, they put their top six in the top 24 en route to the victory. Logan Richart and Reyes Martinez both broke 16:00 for the second and first times, respectively, with Devon Kemp just missing out on his third sub-16:00 mark. The Eagles have posted key wins at the SWCCCA Richard Clark Invitational, Raymore-Peculiar Invitational, Missouri Southern Stampede, COC XC Championship, and, of course, District 2 meet. They were also the Gans Creek Classic Gold Division Runner-Ups. Watch for Nixa to put it all together this weekend and contend for a team title in Class 5. 

St. Louis University High

SLUH took out the perennial powerhouse and preseason favorite Rock Bridge 39-41 on Saturday. They have qualified for the State Cross Country meet for 31 years in a row now and earned 5 state titles and 15 total trophies in the time. Led by superstar freshman Jackson Miller, the cavalcade of Junior Bills that are not too close behind his 15:45.57 best from the District 3 meet should frighten their Class 5 foes.

SLUH will hope to use their pack-running prowess to secure yet another state trophy, as their 1-5 spread of 37.21 seconds has helped them succeed throughout the season. They won a ridiculous 10 meets this season, including the Forest Park Green Division, Parkway West Invitational, yet another MCC Championship, and, as we mentioned, the Class 5 District 3 Championship. They are battle-tested and could absolutely stun the field with a tight group in the 20-40 range. 



Once again, Rockhurst is rolling at just the right time. With a top three under 15:50 and a recent history of success at the state meet, the Hawklets are on a crash course for a Class 5 State title. 

Acorn leads the way with fellow juniors Andrew Davis and Kai Somasegaran close behind at 15:44 and 15:46. The crew put together an impressive performance to take down Liberty and Liberty North this past Saturday, cementing them as a front-runner this coming Saturday. They have posted key wins at the Greg Wilson Classic and District 4 meet, while finishing runner-up in the Forest Park Green Division, third in the Gans Creek Gold Division, and fifth at the Chile Pepper Festival. 


Keep an eye out for...


Liberty's 2023 season has them eyeing their first team championship since going back-to-back in 2003 and 2004. Peyton Willbanks leads the way with an impressive 15:23.9 best and five sub-16:00 performances to his name. He finished 5th on Saturday, but he is still a Top 5 contender this Saturday after finishing 13th in 2022. 

He leads one of the strongest squads on paper into the Class 5 State meet. Connor Nicholson and Evan McWhorter are solid No. 2 and No. 3 men, with 15:34 and 15:48 bests, respectively. It's a solid 1-2-3 punch that was able to hold off their similarly strong cross-town rivals, Liberty North, for second at the District 4 meet, who were without reigning state champion Sage Wilde

There is a realistic possibility that three of the four trophy spots will be occupied by District 4 teams, though there are several other solid teams from around the state who should upset that projection. 


Rock Bridge

Slotted into the "watchlist" section of the preview as a result of a narrow 3-point defeat to St. Louis University High on Saturday, the Rock Bridge Bruins are still just as scary as ever heading into Saturday's showdown at Gans. 

The runner-ups in Class 5 in 2022, Rock Bridge's boys have been on the state podium eleven times in the last fourteen years, with first-place finishes coming in 2011 and 2020. They are led once again by Andrew Hauser, but also with a solid string of young talented runners behind him. Luke Sievers, only a sophomore, burst onto the scene with a 15:03.40 mark at the Olathe Twilight. Since then, he has followed up with a 15:19.90 mark at the Nike Town Twilight and 15:50.29 at the District 3 mark for third overall. Fellow sophomores Matthew Kim and Cook Hudson have both posted solid campaigns, but have yet to match their Olathe Twilight personal bests of 15:49.40 and 16:09.60. Ethan Hockman is the No. 4 man at 16:06.00. The Bruins are looking solid heading into the Class 5 meet, but will have to hold off a deep field to grab their twelfth trophy in the Neal Blackburn era. 


Keagan Enicks- Blue Springs

After an injury-shorted junior season, Blue Springs' Keagan Enicks has enjoyed a solid senior year. He enters Saturday's Class 5 Championship fifth among Class 5 runners with his 15:14.11 best from the Missouri Southern Stampede. He won that prestigious meet, along with the Sock It To Cancer Grain Valley Invitational and the KC Suburban Gold Conference meet. A surprising sixth place at the District 4 meet should not fool you - Enicks is an individual title contender. 


Bryce Gentry - Jackson

Jackson's Bryce Gentry is peaking at exactly the right time as he heads to Columbia this weekend with a shiny new 15:27.80 personal best and District 1 runner-up medal to his name. Gentry's two fastest career marks have come in his last two meets, with a 15:47.90 mark for the SEMO Large Schools Conference win coming on October 14th. He also owns golds from the Notre Dame Invitational and Cape Central Invitational, as well as his early-season home meet. Gentry is a dark horse for the win, but should be one to watch to at least sneak into the Top 5 a year after finishing 17th.