By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Mia Harris and Ben Stasney won both the individual races Saturday for West Plains, which also claimed the girls overall title; however, Kickapoo spoiled Zizzers’ quest for a clean sweep in the boys team competition.
With two runners help out of the race due to injury, including No. 1 Jacob McCrackin, West Plains was unable to match Kickapoo’s depth.
While there were a few questions leading up to the girls race, West Plains proved to have all the answers. Paced by race winner Mia Harris, the Lady Zizzers swept the top three spots and rolled to the overall title.
Harris and second-place finisher Kaylee Hartley ran away from the field around the one mile marker and stretched out their lead on to 200 meters down the final hilly stretch. The duo finished with times of 20:19:78 and 20:24:93, respectively.
“We were going to pack run with the top four varsity girls for the first mile,” Harris said. “Then Kaylee and I were going to break off, but we kind of broke off a bit early. Right before we got to the woods on the second lap, that’s when I pulled ahead, because I knew that’s where I had to make my move or I wouldn’t be able to get in front of Kaylee.”
While pack running is a cross country staple, few programs have been able to match West Plains’ dominance in the event over the years.
Lady Zizzer head coach Alicia Gunter was pleased with her team’s performance, particularly that of her young freshman winner.
“Mia is just really strong for us and has been strong from the get-go,” Gunter said. “She’s a super-coachable kid and does everything I say to a T. Our plan was go out with our front four at the front of the pack and stay together for about halfway through, and then keep our fifth as close as we possibly could.”
McKenzie Bergman rounded out the top three for the Lady Zizzers with a time of 21:02:24, followed by Lebanon’s Kelsey Winfrey (21:06:71) and Joplin’s Laurel Singh (21:12:93).
While West Plains wasn’t able to run away from the field as it did in the girls event, the end result was same.
Ben Stasney held off Glendale’s Luke Miller for win. Stasney’s 16:43:52 and Miller’s 16:48:71 were the only times under 17:00 on the day. Parkview’s Preston Burgess was third in 17:00:93.
“I knew, coming in, there would be some good runners,” Stasney said. “Kickapoo’s always bringing good competition and is always ready to run. I knew I had to get out and get away from them to have a chance at winning.”
Stasney and teammate Ethan Hutchinson worked together to pace the field early on, then Stasney made his move at two miles, just before entering Lake Springfield’s second-lap wooded area.
For Kickapoo and head coach Jeremy Goddard, a strong team performance paid off and vaulted the Chiefs into the team title.
Led by Jarod Ozee’s fourth place time of 17:06:30, all five Kickapoo runners finished in the top 20.
“I think we got fortunate with West Plains missing a few kids, mostly,” Goddard said. “But the back end of our group ran really well. The 3, 4, 5 .. that’s where we knew we had to step up, and that’s where all the points are in this meet. Those guys just ran tight and pushed, and they knew what it meant.”
Girls Individual Results – 5K (Top 20)
1. Mia Harris West Plains 20:19:78
2. Kaylee Hartley West Plains 20:24:93
3. McKenzie Bergman West Plains 21:02:24
4. Kelsey Winfrey Lebanon 21:06:71
5. Laurel Singh Joplin 21:12:93
6. Whitneigh Drown West Plains 21:27:24
7. Emma Puetz Rolla 21:33:74
8. Olivia Hall Kickapoo 22:03:18
9. Anna Weiner Kickapoo 22:15:43
10. Maya Alberhasky Parkview 22:32:24
11. Keaton Campbell Joplin 22:35:02
12. Katie Gray Joplin 22:42:62
13. Jessica Pal Joplin 22:48:99
14. Carrie Coffman Lebanon 22:53:18
15. Abby O’Connor Lebanon 22:54:34
16. Bella Jensen Joplin 23:08:24
17. Megan Donahue West Plains 23:09:74
18. Ali Doll Joplin 23:11:71
19. Hailey Mitchell Joplin 23:19:11
20. M’Kenna Breckenridge Kickapoo 23:20:68
Girls Team Results (Top Five)
1. West Plains 29
2. Joplin 57
3. Lebanon 89
4. Kickapoo 89
5. Parkview 131
Boys Individual Results – 5K (Top 20)
1. Ben Stasney West Plains 16:43:52
2. Luke Miller Glendale 16:48:71
3. Preston Burgess Parkview 17:00:93
4. Jarod Ozee Kickapoo 17:06:30
5. Ethan Hutchinson West Plains 17:07:08
6. Blaine Jimerson Joplin 17:20:02
7. Brenden Crews Kickapoo 17:27:40
8. Nick Ondr Glendale 17:48:71
9. Ethan Smith Parkview 17:52:93
10. Jace Hull Parkview 17:54:99
11. Damien Gonzalez Kickapoo 17:57:84
12. Sam Knopf Parkview 17:59:24
13. Tyler Bossing Kickapoo 18:04:55
14. Tyler Gray Joplin 18:06:93
15. Garrett Mason Camdenton 18:08:81
16. Evan Northcutt Joplin 18:18:40
17. Tyler Kurtz Joplin 18:23:84
18. Tim Cobb Kickapoo 18:24:87
19. Eli Ventura Joplin 18:28:68
20. Nick Farquhar Kickapoo 18:34:68
Boys Team Results (Top Five)
1. Kickapoo 52
2. Joplin 69
3. Parkview 73
4. West Plains 75
5. Glendale 145