SLUH Places Second at State
SLUH Places Second at State

What a season! For the third consecutive year, SLUH finished as runner-up at State in the large schools classification. This year's team champions were Rock Bridge out of Columbia, the top-ranked team in Missouri and a team that we hadn't raced since last year's State meet. 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. Going back to 1999, this is now our sixth second place finish to go along with our five team championships.

Like anything else this season, the final race didn't come easy. At the 1,000-meter checkpoint, we found ourselves in 7th place. However, our pack was only a few seconds off the front of a massive leading pack of runners, so we knew the race remained there for us if we stayed confident and didn't panic amidst such a large throng of runners. We had prepared for exactly this kind of race. The next two miles were some of the finest pack racing we have ever seen. To the man, our runners stuck together and moved up through the field. At the 2,000-meter mark, we climbed to 5th. At 3,000 meters, to 2nd. Then at 4,000 meters, by a narrow margin, we overtook Rock Bridge for the lead. The race came down to who could be strongest over the final 1,000 meters.

Though Rock Bridge got the best of us over the final kilometer, we couldn't have been prouder of our team effort. Entering the season, after having lost a number of key seniors to graduation, we weren't on anyone's radar to place highly at State, let alone perhaps even qualify. Our remarkable 0:19 spread between our scoring runners was the tightest spread we have ever seen at State, and the fact that we pulled off a second place team finish without any All-State individuals (top 25 finishers) is a bold statement about how good our team depth was. I admittedly don't have the stats to back this up, but it's unlikely that a team has ever placed second without the benefit of at least one All-State runner. It has certainly never happened in our memory.

Such an achievement wouldn't have been possible without the investment and dedication of all 84 runners in the program, not to mention all the parents, coaches, and other adults who make it all possible. Though only seven raced on Saturday, it was a program accomplishment of the highest magnitude. We were sad everyone couldn't join us in Columbia, but it was powerful to know that a group assembled back at SLUH on Saturday morning to be together and united in that moment. Everyone should feel tremendous pride at what we all were able to achieve during these challenging times, which for many went all the way back to solo training when lockdown started in March. The odds were stacked against us, but everyone persevered, taking each day and each opportunity given to us as a gift. In the words of one XC parent, lessons were learned and experience gained in teamwork, determination, drive, focus, high expectations, discipline, spirit, and sportsmanship. And isn't that what sport is all about?

Class 5 Team Results:
1. Rock Bridge, 109 (State Champions)
2. SLUH, 125 (State Runner-Up)
3. Liberty, 136 (State Trophy)
4. Liberty North, 142 (State Trophy)
5. Central (St. Joseph), 145
6. Kickapoo, 171
7. Ladue Horton Watkins, 182
8. Rockhurst, 231
9. Jackson, 239
10. Hickman, 241
11. Marquette, 254
12. Joplin, 258
13. Francis Howell, 276
14. Blue Springs, 289
15. Helias Catholic, 388
16. Blue Springs South, 414

SLUH Results: Note the 15-second scoring spread!
27th. Grant Brawley, junior, 16:22.5
29th. Ryan Kramer, senior, 16:23.9 (PR)
42nd. Baker Pashea, junior, 16:34.5
45th. Hayden Zenor, senior, 16:36.5 (PR)
46th. Sean Kellogg, junior, 16:37.6 (PR)
57th. Justin Glass, junior, 16:44.3 (PR)
60th. Daniel Hogan, senior, 16:45.7
Alternates: Carter Lowe, sophomore; Nolan Meara, sophomore; Wyatt Seal, sophomore

Class 5 Boys Race Results - Included in this link are the kilometer-by-kilometer splits that you can view for each team and individual runner. (Finish results listed as a PDF)