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 3 Girls State Championship will be the second race of the day on Saturday with a 9:45am start time. The race features a reigning individual champion hoping to hold off some strong challengers and a reigning team champion with a legitimate chance of repeating.
2023 MSHSAA STATE MEET XC PREVIEWS:
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 3 Girls is currently 20:28.08.
The District Champs - Individuals
A move down to Class 3 has so far paid off handsomely for Notre Dame Cape senior Lauren Eftink. One of the more successful cross country athletes in the Class of 2024 who has, until now, flown relatively low on the state-wide radar, Eftink has a chance to secure the first individual championship in her school's history coming off a Class 3 District 1 win.
Eftink has won her last three races heading into Saturday's finale, headlined by that District 1 win in an 18:43.70 personal best, but also including the SEMO Conference and Farmington Invitational. That shiny new personal best on her challenging home course has us on high alert as she hopes to take out the reigning state champion Saturday morning. She will be among the handful of runners in the mix for sure.
Profiled this preseason as a potential game-changer in the Class 3 scene, freshman Katrina Cantwell has lived up to the billing and is now a dark horse candidate for the Class 3 individual title.
Last Saturday, Cantwell rolled to a Class 3 District 2 win, her third win of the season. The other two came early on in the season at Fellows Lake and her home meet, but she has picked up runner-up finishes, as well, at Hollister, Hermitage, Clever, and the MLC Championships. With a 19:44.50 personal best from the massive Chile Pepper Festival, Cantwell is vying to be among the top finishers in Class 3 this weekend and should be the top freshman to watch.
The reigning champ has officially battled all the way back from a long injury road and looks ready to retain her Class 3 crown.
Southern Boone senior Alexandra Volkart debuted this fall with a runner-up finish in the Gans Creek Blue division to Fulton's Emery Mayfield, finished 69th overall at the Chile Pepper Festival, and has picked up wins at the Tri-County Conference and Class 3 District 3 meet. Sandwiched between those wins is a runner-up finish to Tolton's Elyse Wilmes. Her 18:22.90 season best from the Bowling Green Invite has her as the top seed heading into the weekend as she seeks to become the first Class 3 repeat champion since Taylor Werner won four straight from 2012-2015.
St. Michael's Elsa Henry is on a crash course toward capping off an incredible career with her school's first individual cross country championship.
The third place finisher here last year, Henry has enjoyed a busy fall of racing, picking up six wins and three runner-up finishes in ten tries. Her only non-first or second place finish came in the Gold division at the Gans Creek Classic, where she finished ninth. Henry's major victories have come at the SMH Fall Classic, Lamar Tiger's Invitational, Crossroads Conference, and Class 3 District 4 meet, and her personal best of 18:44.60 came in a second place effort at the Kris Solsberg Invite. She finished behind Class 5 contender Gracie Jacobs there and ahead of several other Class 4 and 5 stars.
Henry is no stranger to the limelight after winning the Class 3 3200 this spring. Watch for her in the front pack this Saturday morning, challenging for the overall win.
The District Champs - Teams
Tabbed as Class 2 title contender in the preseason, Metro (St. Louis) actually had to make the leap up to Class 3 and compete against Herculaneum, Cape Notre Dame, and Potosi, among others, for a State berth. The jump in classification was no bother for the Panthers as they were able to take care of the strong field and bring home the Class 3 District 1 championship.
Led by the powerful 1-2 punch of Lucy Luetkemeyer and Yuri Malone in third and fourth, Metro finished the District 1 meet with their top five in the top thirty and 58 points, 10 ahead of Herculaneum. Luetkemeyer has actually leapfrogged Malone this year and is Metro's top runner heading into the weekend. Her 19:10.80 personal best came at the St. Louis Fall Classic and her second fastest time came last Saturday, showing she is rolling at the right time. Malone comes in with a season best of 19:41.30 and lifetime best of 19:30.90. They are locked into a tight battle with four other teams, as our virtual meet has five teams within four points of each other, fighting for the final two team trophies.
Osage stormed to a Class 3 District 2 title last Saturday over Lamar, Clever, and Springfield Catholic, solidifying them as a trophy contending team heading into Saturday.
The ladies are led by Rosie Falter and Jaidyn Tabony, who finished seventh and tenth at the District 2 meet. Falter, a freshman, heads into the State meet with a 20:51.98 personal best and Tabony boasts a new 21:02.28 personal best mark. Osage was fifth last November and graduated three key seniors. They seem to have retooled and will be a sneaky pick to click and break into the logjam for the final two trophies.
St. Charles West's young and talented squad has been rolling all season and is on a crash course for a repeat in Class 3 on Saturday.
The rich got richer this season as a team that won the 2022 Class 3 Championship and did not lose a single member of that team added star freshman Brianna Krueger to the mix. Krueger has been their top runner all season and heads into the weekend seeded fifth with a 19:13.00 from this year's Gans Creek Classic. Genevieve Wacker was their top returner this fall, but she now slots in at number four by season best with a 20:40.17 so far this season. Last fall, she finished with a massive 19:23.00 season best at the State meet and has run her only sub-20:00 marks of her career on the Gans course. Claire Horstmann and Miley Jackson slot in at two and three just ahead of Wacker, with Melaina Beilsmith slotting in just behind. Avery Jackson and Emily Finley create a solid pack of six runners within 44 seconds which has done wonders for the Warriors throughout the campaign.
A heavy favorite to win it all once again this year, watch for a clump of maroon jerseys to roll through the Class 3 field on Saturday en route to their third title in school history.
Two of the four District champion teams were picked as Class 2 title contenders as Lexington joined Metro as teams who moved up and disrupted the Class 3 ranks.
The Minutewomen were the Class 3 District 4 champions on Saturday ahead of a strong St. Michael the Archangel squad. They are led by Addison Smith and Tessa Lovell at 1 and 2. Smith, a freshman, has posted her only sub-20:00 mark of the season on the Gans course, as her 19:43.40 personal best came in a runner-up effort in the Gans Creek Classic White division. Lovell, the final medalist in Class 2 last November, has improved to 20:40.60 this season, also on the Gans course, and appears ready to move into the top 25 in Class 3 this weekend.
Lexington won the Gans Classic White division, running their best race of the season across the board there in the beautiful early morning weather. Another early morning start with great weather on tap has us keeping an eye out for the red and blue jerseys this weekend.
Keep an eye out for...
The Lutheran St. Charles girls are enjoying a very successful 2023 season and are close to making a bid to join the boys in Class 4 next fall with a successful day Saturday.
The District 3 runner-ups to juggernaut St. Charles West, this Lutheran squad is much-improved from last year's tenth place team. Led by the dynamic duo of Madalyn Mahoney and Grace Schaff at 19:46.50 and 19:49.90, the Cougars score low up front and have been able to ride that wave to success against Eastern Missouri's top teams regardless of size. They are 30 points clear of the glob of teams seeded third through seventh, but will need big days from their back-end scorers if they hope to take out St. Charles West this weekend. If anyone is to upset those Lady Warriors, it's this Lutheran squad.
After having zero runners at the Class 3 State meet last fall, the Springfield Catholic girls are rolling into this year's Fall Classic seeded fourth, right in the middle of an incredible group of teams. As previously mentioned, there are five teams from third to seventh within four points of each other.
Even though the Irish were fourth at the District meet, they did it without their low-stick, Emma Belk, and her 20:00.54 personal best. Belk has been out since the Big 8 Championship, signaling a potential injury, though it could be due to other conflicts. With her in the lineup in the weekend, they may have rolled to a victory as her absence created about a 40 point swing against their favor. But if she is back and on her game, this Catholic team is one to watch. Katie Galligos is the leader in Belk's stead with her 21:15.08 personal best.
Westminster senior Lydia Bailey is among the Class 3 title contenders this weekend coming off of a Class 3 District 3 third place finish last Saturday. She has earned victories this season at the incredibly difficult Paul Enke Invitational and the Metro League Championships to go along with a runner-up finish at the Fleet Feet Classic at Arnold. Her 19:21.80 personal best came in a a fourth place effort at the Gans Creek Classic Blue race. She must be smiling after a major breakthrough season and move down from Class 4 has put her firmly in the State title conversation this Saturday.
The jack of all trades, master of many returns for one last hurrah on the Gans Creek course this weekend, as Eldon's Zoe Martonfi looks to add a State Cross Country championship to her overflowing trophy case.
Martonfi was the Class 3 champion this spring in the 800, 1600, and 300 Meter Hurdles, and picked up a third place medal in the Triple Jump. Last fall, she was the runner-up to Alexandra Volkart and finished out her season with an 18:41.24 personal best to her name. This season, she has been consistent in the mid-19s as she builds toward a big finale. Watch for Martonfi, with the famous french braids, to be in the mix throughout Saturday's morning soiree.