On a beautiful November morning in Columbia, SLUH finished in fourth place in the large school classification of the MSHSAA Cross Country Championships. This is our program's 15th State Trophy earned since 1997.
Congratulations to the program for another State qualification, an honor not to be taken lightly, and one that the team has earned annually since 1993. Bridle Ridge Acres in Hillsboro was a new course to us, and the week's rain prevented us from getting out to preview it in advance. Walking the course in the morning, it was clear that a narrow, windy, and muddy course awaited us.
We were once again able to showcase impressive depth at the Clayton Invitational on Friday evening in Shaw Park. After establishing our ten runners for the Big River varsity, we placed seven more in the Clayton varsity division. In the 16-team race, we finished second, trailing only the top varsity from Lutheran St. Charles.
What a day we had back at Jefferson Barracks! On a brilliant, cool fall morning, the team came ready to compete, and compete at a high level. Running on the same course as we did on October 7 at the MCC Championship, times were significantly faster, nearly across the board. Of our 70 racers, 46 earned PRs and two ran season-best times. Between the two races, we claimed 19 of a possible 22 medals and two team championships.
The program had an exceptional day at Jefferson Barracks, winning the MCC Championship on all three levels: Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Freshmen levels. Senior Sean Kellogg was the individual conference champion, and this was the varsity team's 18th consecutive MCC title.
Thanks to Parkway West for putting on another great meet at Living Word UMC and for keeping the nasty weather away. Team-wise, it was a day for us that again showcased some great depth. As far as team awards go, we took home three first place plaques and one runner-up.
We were grateful to be invited back to the Palatine Invitational to mix it up with some unfamiliar teams. In a loaded field that included 23 ranked Illinois teams, our 9th place varsity finish was our fifth best ever at this meet that we've been coming to since 2010.
At the Fox Ed White Invitational, we competed extremely well in all three of our races. Aided by a flat course, favorable weather conditions, a week's more training, and confident & aggressive racing, we earned a whopping total of 46 PRs, 9 SBs, and 22 medals - and three team trophies.
The coaches were very proud of what was a historic day in the heat and on the hills of Sioux Passage.
Back in Forest Park after a year's hiatus, the 16th annual Forest Park XC Festival was another major success. This year, over 2,500 athletes from 164 teams and four states descended on the new course, spread across Langenberg, Cricket and Lindell Fields.
At Granite City, our major season-opening invitational, the program had a tremendous day on a rainy morning, winning on all three levels.
It was a great start to the season in O'Fallon. Not only did our new runners learn about what a XC meet is all about, many ran their fastest three miles ever. Additionally the freshmen and sophomores each won the team competition in their respective races!
Last Friday night, everyone had the opportunity to get their first taste of racing in the 2021 season. After being placed into one of three heats, all team members attacked a two-mile race around the SLUH track.
For the third consecutive season, SLUH finished as runner-up at State in the large schools classification. In a season marked by many twists and turns, this race offered a suitable and thrilling conclusion to the story that was 2020 SLUH Cross Country. Since 1999, this is now our sixth second place finish to go along with our five team championships.
What a day! In a very good district field where fine runners and teams were inevitably going to come up on the wrong side of the qualification line, our pack controlled the race from beginning to finish to stamp out a clear District Championship.
Findley was the final invitational of the season for all not competing in the State series. Back at Chaminade's course, we ran an incredible number of tough, impressive races that earned us many PRs and medals. Nearly half our racers PR'ed on the day, and we claimed individual race champions in all three races.
Completing our trifecta of three meets in 24 hours, Friday's Big River Invitational provided a perfect transition into the opportunity for fast season-ending performances looming on the horizon. Running around flat and wide-open fields at Buder Park, many athletes found themselves with new PRs at the end of the day.
Whereas Thursday was uncomfortably warm, the Clayton Invitational received the opposite treatment on Friday. On a cold and blustery afternoon in Shaw Park, our squad again competed very well. In the varsity race, Aidan Byrne led the way for a fourth-place team finish - behind top varsity teams from Clayton and De Smet.
The weather provided a stark difference in our two race days last week. On Thursday at Blackburn Park, temperatures soared and made for an uncomfortable day of racing on an already challenging course. This was a day where times weren't a clear indicator of some very good racing.
On a day with favorable course and weather conditions, we enjoyed a fast and fun day at Jefferson Barracks against conference foes. Race breakthroughs often come from a willingness to put aside fear, and an incredible 41 of our runners set PRs on the day. In terms of team scoring, SLUH won each race by healthy margins.
SLUH enjoyed tremendous success at the MCC Championships on a very hot day at Chaminade, winning conference on each of the three levels. Each season, we look to this day as a key day on the schedule, the the coaches are very proud of the way that everyone battled and raced amidst challenging conditions.
On a perfect morning for racing, we came ready to compete in each of the three races. Varsity and JV earned team championships, and sixteen of our 21 racers set lifetime bests on a course that doesn't easily give fast times.
On this day, we had our first chance to compete against our Catholic Conference rivals ahead of Wednesday's conference championships. We held out all of our runners scheduled to race at Parkway West, but this didn't stop us from a fantastic day on the campus of Chaminade.