By Nolan Epstein
Rogersville, Mo. — The day may have ultimately belonged to Bolivar, which took home first-place team finishes on both the boys and girls side, but Marshfield’s Tabi Weber and Catholic’s Stephen Kielhofner each earned top individual honors – setting course records in their respective races in Tuesday’s COC Small XC meet.
Weber sets bar high for future runners
Coming into Tuesday’s meet in Hollister, the main concern for Marshfield senior Tabi Weber was how her body would react to fatigue while fighting through the latter stages of the race – something that has become an issue in recent weeks.
That worry was quickly put to rest as Weber powered through masterfully to take first place on the girls side, while setting a new course record in the process with a time of 18:32.45.
“I really tried to stay up and stay really strong throughout,” Weber said after the race. “In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling in the back half of my race, so I really wanted to push through that and not let anything hold me back.”
For Weber, who was the only Marshfield runner to finish in the Top 20, Tuesday was also the buildup to a goal set at the beginning of the season – one that she achieved with time to spare as the senior finished a full 36 seconds sooner than second-place finisher Kelie Henderson (19.08.66) from Bolivar.
“We’ve really been working hard this year on trying to get into the 18’s and just going all out,” said Weber. “This is the second to last time I’ll be able to run on this course, so I really want to set the bar.”
Adding some icing to the cake was the fact that Weber’s record-setting performance occurred on her birthday.
“I’m 18, so I’ve got to run an 18,” Weber said, laughing. “It made it sweet.”
Laci Lindsay (Bolivar), Anna Galligos (Catholic) and Rachel Bagg (Reeds Spring) rounded out the Top 5. Sophomore Jeydon Jones came in second for the Lady Jays with a time of 22.46.46, good for 21st overall.
Kielhofner pulls away to make course history
Like his counterpart on the girls side, Catholic’s Stephen Kielhofner set the standards for racing the 3.1-mile course in Hollister a little bit higher on Tuesday – breaking the previous record by conquering the course with a time of 15.45.00.
For over half the race, Kielhofner had close company – staying neck-and-neck with Bolivar senior Nathan Painter. But as time went on and the finish line inched closer with each passing stride, Kielhofner knew he would have to soon make his move.
“It was really kind of just deciding when I wanted to break off and I eventually decided that I needed to pick up the pace a little bit, I needed to get away from him,” said Kielhofner. “He put up a pretty good fight, but I needed to get away and maintain.”
The senior made the right move and split from Painter, who finished second with a time of 16.06.63. By the time he emerged onto the final stretch after a series of twists and turns on the windy path, Kielhofner found himself all alone.
“I really didn’t know what time I was going to get going,” Kielhofner said. “I just knew I was going to pace off Nathan Painter and hopefully pick it up later in the race. That went pretty well, I’d say.”
While weather conditions were likely ideal for some runners, Kielhofner was slightly affected by the combination of unseasonably warm weather and allergens floating through the air – which made his strong performance all the more impressive.
“My mouth was definitely dry today, I could feel it,” he added. “I was coughing some, but I felt pretty nice today and it was definitely a good race.”
Coming in behind Kielhofner and Painter were Matt McHenry (Rogersville), Trenton Wells (Buffalo) and Tracen McKinney (Bolivar), who took third, fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.
Bolivar gets it done
Last week, Bolivar head coach Ron Bandy noticed something in both of his teams that caught his attention. Although it wasn’t necessarily tangible or something he could pinpoint, he could tell that things were starting to click at the right time.
“Something has happened with this group that hasn’t happened before,” Bandy said. “I just looked at them today and I was like, ‘Hey, something is happening. We’re all just kind of flowing together, so let’s see what we can turn this into.’”
All Bolivar turned it into was a sweep on the girls and boys side, from the middle-school level and up – continuing the success of a program rich in tradition.
“I’ve won quite a bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a full, clean sweep like this,” said Bandy, who has been an XC coach for 21 years. “I’m just super proud of the kids. ”
In the girls column, all seven Lady Liberators finished 17th or better, with four finishing in the Top 7. For the boys, five Liberators nabbed Top 20 spots, while none finished lower than 22nd.
Bolivar was paced by the aforementioned Henderson (girls) and Painter (boys), who took second-place honors in their respective races.
“With those two, we kind of went into it knowing that’s where we were going to finish,” Bandy said. “I thought they ran great races. They ran patient and just kind of got their job done.”
Catholic claimed second place, followed by Rogersville (third) on the girls side. Catholic and Rogersville also finished second and third in the varsity boys race.
Girls Individual Results (Top 20)
1. Tabi Weber, Marshfield, 18:32.45
2. Kelie Henderson, Bolivar, 19:08.66
3. Laci Lindsay, Bolivar, 19:51.40
4. Anna Galigos, Catholic, 19:57.75
5. Rachel Bagg, Reeds Spring, 19:58.44
6. Alena Fugitt, Bolivar, 20:05.56
7. Anna Bandy, Bolivar, 20:13.77
8. Amy Vedder, Rogersville, 20:20.37
9. Faith Stark, Rogersville, 20:38.70
10. Craigon Bradley, Hollister, 21:03.57
11. Anna Burson, Catholic, 21:05.11
12. Andrea Gray, Catholic, 21:19.56
13. Brionna Halverson, Bolivar, 21:27.59
14. Jillian Porter, Bolivar, 21:33.88
15. Cate Maynard, Catholic, 21:34.68
16. Claire Hornibrook, Reeds Spring, 21:42.17
17. River Nolting, Bolivar, 21:50.38
18. Alexia Hackman, Hollister, 22:00.48
19. Hope Strausbaugh, Rogersville, 22:09.44
20. Katie Miller, Catholic, 22:25.71
Girls Team Results (Top Five)
1. Bolivar, 31
2. Catholic, 62
3. Rogersville, 97
4. Marshfield, 105
5. Hollister, 121
Boys Individual Results (Top 20)
1. Stephen Kielhofner, Catholic, 15:45.00
2. Nathan Painter, Bolivar, 16:06.63
3. Matt McHenry, Rogersville, 16:33.78
4. Trenton Wells, Buffalo, 16:39.55
5. Tracen McKinney, Bolivar, 16:58.44
6. Jay Strausbaugh, Rogersville, 17:12.02
7. Caleb Pyle, Bolivar, 17:35.83
8. Wes Pendleton, Catholic, 17:39.76
9. Keaton Garrett, Rogersville, 17:40.70
10. Greg Kelly, Catholic, 17:51.44
11. Preston Horne, Marshfield, 17:54.66
12. Luke Wegenka, Catholic, 18:02.65
13. Kellan Broadway, Bolivar, 18:06.78
14. Elijah Horne, Marshfield, 18:10.79
15. Charles Grigsby, Bolivar, 18:17.52
16. Jeffery Beaty, Rogersville, 18:25.54
17. Cameron Shook, Hollister, 18:28.17
18. Noah Boyer, Rogersville, 18:29.02
19. Evan Clark, Catholic, 18:31.16
20. Nick Palmer, Catholic, 18:31.49
Boys Team Results (Top Five)
1. Bolivar, 42
2. Catholic, 49
3. Rogersville, 51
4. Marshfield, 111
5. Buffalo, 132