Summit Prep senior Claire Workman has won everything she possible could in her high school running career; except a team state title in cross country.
Workman with twins Claire and Katie McCune went 1-2-3 in the individual race last season, but still fell short of a team title by four points.
This year, Summit Prep left no doubt in winning the Class 1 team title with 66 points, which was 14 points better than second place.
“It means everything. That is what we have been training for all year, and that is what it means to be a team. We have been wanting to do this each of the last three years we have had a team,” Workman, who won the individual title for the third time, said. “Each year we got closer and closer and last year we were so close. I am just so proud of our team.”
The difference this year came in the fourth and fifth runners.
“You have to look at our 4-5 positions as why we won today,” Coach Mike Workman said. “Cassilyn Enyart dropped almost two minutes from last year’s time to move up about 30 places from last year. Grace Reinhard had never run cross country before and ran in our fifth spot this year.”
In the individual race, Workman found herself in an unfamiliar position at the mile in second place to Liberal’s Alexys Barton.
“I didn’t even realize it was her (Barton). I just saw there was a person out there and thought I don’t know who this is, but I really hope I can catch them,” Workman said. “So the whole first mile I was really worried and everyone was telling it is fine.”
It turned out to be just fine as Workman won the Class 1 State Title by 47 second in 19:00.60. Teammates Claire and Katie McCune came in second and third for the second straight year in times of 19:47.76 and 19:48.48.
Barton slipped to fifth in a time of 20:16.91.
The area had four other all-state finishers in the class with Fair Play freshman Kaylee Foster (8th), School of the Ozarks sophomores Autumn Alden (21st) and Ariel Fowler (23rd) and Wheaton freshman Brittany King (24th).
Liberal finished 8th, Hermitage finished 10th and Blue Eye was 11th in the team competition.
On the boys’ side, Hermitage made it three team titles in a row in dominating fashion. The Hornets won by 45 points with 55 total team points. Hermitage’s No. 7 runner beat every other team’s No. 5 runner.
“We were looking to see if we could make it three in a row. With six of our top kids returning, that is what we were expecting,” Coach Mark Sabala said. “But there were a lot of good teams we had to go against, so we knew we had to run our best race.”
At the head of the group was junior Easton Sabala who ran an aggressive race to try and win. He went out in 5:04.42 right with defending champion Riley Gorham from Hardin-Central and just ahead of last year’s runner-up Dustin Shoemaker from conference rive Humansville.
“It was his choice of what he wanted to do. We didn’t want him to go out too fast,” Sabala said. “He was determined to try and see if he could go after the championship for himself. He gave it a run and hung in there pretty well.”
Shoemaker was able to run Sabala down thanks to taking a more conservative approach to the start of the race.
“I wanted to let them lead the race for a little bit and try to come back on them at the end,” Shoemaker said. “I was too dead going up Firehouse Hill to catch Riley (Gorham), but I got Easton. That was definitely one of my main goals.”
That one spot move over Sabala was big for a Humansville team that would finish fourth and get on the podium for the first time in Shoemaker’s career.
“That means a lot to me. It will be my first time in my high school career (to win a team trophy),” Shoemaker. “My boys worked really hard for me and I am really proud of them.”
For Hermitage, it marks the end of a strong era with five of the top seven runners being seniors. Just Easton Sabala and No. 7 runner Mitchell Bigman, both juniors, will be back next year.
“(I will miss) their work ethic and how close they were as a team. They believed in each other and they ran for each other. That is something you can’t get all the time,” Mark Sabala said. “They have all grown up together since they started school and they believe in each other. You can’t replace that.”
Bailey Jones (Hermitage – 6th), Chase Ratliff (Weaubleau – 7th), Evan Smith (Chadwick -13th), Eli Brown (Summit Prep – 16th), Max Ostmeyer (McAuley Catholic – 17th), Zac Sutt (Hermitage – 22nd) and Jeffrey Salmon (Hermitage – 23rd) rounded out the all-state finishers in the class for the area.
Liberal (8th) and Galena (16th) were the other area placers.