Following a great performance at State, some of the top runners on the SLUH cross country programs decided to take their skills up to Terre Haute Indiana to compete at Nike Cross Regionals at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course. Despite having just come off of a hard week competing at state, the team still ran some phenomenal races and managed to come away with the meet with some hardware. 

The team left the comforts of St. Louis to go to Terre Haute late last Friday night and got a whole day in Terre Haute to train before their race on Sunday. They were met with frigid temperatures upon arriving at the famous Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course to get in a run and pick up their racing materials. Because of Nike rules, the team was not allowed to compete as a school but rather had to enter as The St. Louis Cross Country Club, sporting their Flopack jerseys and peach running shorts. After getting in a quick practice the team headed back to the hotel and ate dinner in preparation for the next day’s races.

When race day arrived though, instead of ideal conditions for a cross country race, the team was greeted with freezing rain and hail. Temperatures fell below freezing as the team was warming up and the rain made the course sloppy and slick just as the JV squad was going to the line. 

Because only 22 teams are allowed in the Championship (varsity) race, many varsity teams from the region were forced into the Open race to compete against SLUH’s JV squad, but despite this the team remained focused and put on a show as the race began. Lucas Rammacher had a breakout race and led the SLUH pack the whole time, earning the only PR on the day and running 17:47. Following Lucas was a pack of three SLUH runners: Will Riggan (18:01), Mason Scargall (18:06) and Anthony Zangara (18:08), who all finished within 7 seconds of each other. Nolan Meara rounded out the scoring for the Jr. Bills running an 18:26. In a race that had almost 900 runners and 76 teams in it, SLUH finished in 30th with a score of 872 points. 

“I think we raced very well and it's really exciting when you think that there were very few seniors in that group in the open race, so a lot of them are getting some really good experience that can prepare them for next year and years to come,” said Porter. “It was a great way to finish out the season and to get those younger guys ready to go for next year's season.”

The varsity squad raced next, in the 10th race of the day, and by then the course was torn to shreds. It was hard to even walk around without sinking in mud. To further add to the struggles, the team had to be introduced then stand for almost 20 minutes in the freezing conditions and rain. However the varsity kept their goal in mind and had a day out on the course. The team packed up a little further back in the pack than normal but with the help of senior Joe LaBarge, who was having a breakout race, they moved up throughout the race and managed to finish in very good positions. Sean Kellogg led the way for the Jr. Bills and finished in 39th, running 16:42. Joe LaBarge (68th; 16:58) finished close behind, finishing as the two man for the team for the first time this season. Baker Pashea (82nd; 17:07) and Grant Brawley (93rd; 17:16) finished close to each other and ran very well to place in the top 100. Justin Glass (130th; 17:43) rounded out the scoring for the Jr. Bills on the day. With four runners in the top 100 and a solid five man the team earned the 10th place team finish out of 22 teams, taking down both the Class 4 and Class 5 Missouri state champions from just a week before. They scored 282 points and had a scoring spread of 1:01. Despite the bad conditions, the Jr. Bills rose to the challenge and finished in one of the best team positions that SLUH has had in a while. 

With the cross country season wrapped up the team looks forward to the winter off season and track next spring. With fast performances like these behind them the team is very optimistic for its chances during track and looking forward to the 2022 cross country season. With five of the varsity runners being seniors, the team is looking for some new faces to step up and the coaches are confident that they will have a very successful fall season in 2022. 

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