By Brian Gilmore '02
For a second consecutive season, the Jr. Billikens finished 2nd overall at the State meet. It was a proud finish for our decorated senior class, a class that was part of the program that finished 10th overall in both 2016 and 2017. Each of them played pivotal roles in elevating us to our consecutive runner-up finishes. We defeated many strong programs on the day, including Liberty, the only Missouri team who had previously defeated us this season.
At Saturday's (11/9) State Championship, our score of 119 trailed only Raymore-Peculiar's 104. Ray-Pec, as they are commonly known, is a school located about 30 miles south of Kansas City. Saturday was the first time we raced them this season. In the weeks leading up to State, they had also earned District and Sectional championships. Heading into State, we expected them to be among our strongest competition. From the outset of the race, we ran with confidence and class, and we were the leading team at each of the first four live-scoring checkpoints. However, over the final kilometer, Ray-Pec made a surge that we could not answer. Only moments after the finish, the live scoreboard confirmed what we saw transpire in the final stages of the race: Ray-Pec would be the champions on the day. They ran a phenomenal race to earn their first team championship in school history and first top-four trophy since 1986. To them, we tip our caps.
Individually, six of our seven runners PR'ed on the beautiful new Gans Creek XC Course. Their efforts produced a 5k scoring average of 16:06, far and away our best-ever State average. Our scorers on the day were Noah Scott, Lucas Rackers, Joe Callahan, Ryan Kramer, and Adam Mittendorf, with Grant Brawley and Peter Dillon not far behind.
Further, Noah and Lucas enshrined their names in the most elite parts of our team record book. The pair ran together near the front of the race and finished in 5th and 6th overall, each among our top ten all-time places at State. Following up on their All-State finishes from last year (a designation awarded to the Top 25 runners), they are now the 11th and 12th athletes in program history to multiple All-State XC medals. Finally, their times of 15:38.6 and 15:41.5 are the second and third fastest times a SLUH Junior Billiken runner has ever run in a 5k race.
Thank you to all the team and family members who made the drive to Columbia to cheer on the team and celebrate this day for the program. A special thanks to all the people, adults and upperclassmen, who made the effort to make sure our freshmen and sophomores could attend.
No single race, good or bad, defines a season. All team members should be proud about what we were able to accomplish over the course of the 2019 season. By any standard, what we do is incredibly difficult, and we were able to achieve great success, demonstrate class and maturity, and have a lot of fun while doing it. In our graduating senior class, we are losing a lot of leadership and talent, but with a tremendous cast of returning runners who learned from the Class of 2020, the future, yet again, looks bright for SLUH Cross Country.
SLUH Individual Results:
5th. Noah Scott, senior, 15:38.6 (PR; All-State medalist)
6th. Lucas Rackers, senior, 15:41.5 (PR; All-State medalist)
44th. Joe Callahan, senior, 16:19.4 (PR)
60th. Ryan Kramer, junior, 16:26.0 (PR)
64th. Adam Mittendorf, senior, 16:27.8
75th. Grant Brawley, sophomore, 16:33.1 (PR)
99th. Peter Dillon, senior, 16:44.4 (PR)
1. Raymore-Peculiar, 104 (State Champions)
2. SLUH, 119 (State Runner-Up)
3. Rock Bridge, 125 (State Trophy)
4. Kirkwood, 148 (State Trophy)
5. Central (St. Joseph), 150
6. Rockhurst, 170
7. Jefferson City, 205
8. Liberty, 206
9. Marquette, 208
10. Staley, 214
11. Webb City, 252
12. Ladue Horton Watkins, 259
13. Webster Groves, 279
14. West Plains, 280
15. Lafayette (Wildwood), 335
16. Francis Howell, 362
Class 4 Boys Race Results - Included in this link are the kilometer-by-kilometer splits that you can view for each team and individual runner.
State Photo Album
Post-Race MileSplit Team Interview - tremendous wisdom and perspective from a very special group!
StL Today State Meet Recap Article