Photo Credit: Chris Auckley, MoTrackFanatic
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – Marquette’s Noah Kauppila began his state series with another victory, claiming Saturday’s Class 4 District 2 race in 15:51 at Parkway Central High School.
Kauppila was joined up front by teammate Adam Roderique, who finished second in 15:55, and Lafayette senior Jordan West, who cruised into third in 16:18. Kauppila and Roderique set an easy pace through the first half of the race, and then the duo started to speed up and push themselves a little harder.
“I was just trying to get the rust off and race a little harder this week going into state and see how it felt,” Kauppila said. “We haven’t started tapering yet, so it’s pretty good for now. It’s a good indication of where I am right now, so hopefully when we start tapering we’ll see how I do next week, and then hopefully I’ll be ready for state.”
Behind the 1-2 scoring of Kauppila and Roderique, Marquette garnered 87 points to finish runner-up. Lafayette put its first four scoring runners in the top 11 en route to a district title with 59 points.
Following West, Dylan Quisenberry and Derek Legenzoff finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in 16:40. Derek Albright was 11th in 16:57, and Jack Rogan was the Lancers’ fifth runner in 32nd (17:38).
West has grown plenty familiar with Kauppila and Roderique, so he knew what to expect when the Marquette teammates went to the front of the field. The first mile went through in 5:06, and West said he was feeling comfortable during the race so he let them pull him along.
“For some reason my legs were feeling good today, and I hung with them as long as I could until the two mile mark,” West said. “They’re really strong runners and have an amazing third mile, and I’m still working on it. We’ve got two weeks until state, but it felt good to run with them.”
West said the Lancers just began their speed workouts, so he’s anticipating an even stronger final mile over the next two weeks. The Lafayette senior is running toward a return trip to the state meet, especially after an IT band injury hobbled him last fall when he finished 95th.
“I started the season really well but it ended horribly; I could barely walk after and was out 3-4 months,” West said. “It feels good coming back this year completely healthy.”
And as good as West is feeling about his prospects on a healthy leg, he’s even more excited about the team’s prospects of qualifying for state. The Lancers returned all of their runners from last year’s squad, which finished seventh at districts last fall and did not advance.
Lafayette’s second-year coach Sean O’Connor said the team began to see the results early in the season that started the Lancers considering a run through districts and possible state berth for the first time since 2007.
“It’s huge; just the confidence boost,” O’Connor said. “I think we want to have another good showing (at sectionals). From the middle of the season to this point, I think as a team we’ve taken the steps to say, ‘We’re pretty darn good.’ We should be racing with those guys. We don’t need to sit back and hope we make it through. We want to be the team to push to win and hopefully take it through to state and maybe finish top four at state. That would be an awesome goal.”
DeSmet claimed third with 95 points behind the fifth-place finish of Austin Del Rosso (16:29), and Parkway West qualified through to sectionals in fourth with 113 points. Chris Carter led the Longhorns in eighth (16:41).