By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Webb City senior Ryan Riddle came up just short in his quest for a cross country title, finishing second to Blue Springs senior Victor Meguche in the Class 4 boys race.
After getting out to a blistering start in the first mile (4:41), the two runners pushed through the second mile nearly stride for stride; however, Riddle was unable to counter Meguche’s move through the final series of hills. The pair finished in 15:29.13 and 15:37.34, respectively.
“I don’t think I could have done anything differently,” Riddle said. “I just gave it everything I had and worked my plan out perfectly. Going up Firehouse Hill, that was definitely where [Meguche] started gaining some ground on me, and I knew I had to just get to the top and keep pushing on that last 1k. It just wasn’t my day today.”
Right behind Riddle in third place was West Plains senior Ben Stasney (15:45:46.43), who utilized an angry kick to navigate the final ascent.
“We decided to stick to our plan and pack up for the first mile and half, two miles and then let loose and see what we can do,” Stasney said. “On the last half mile on that curve … the last little bit I tried to get my breath back after the hill and just tried to bring it on for the last half mile.”
Other area finishers in the top 25 included West Plains seniors Ethan Hutchinson (16:04.64) and Jacob McCrackin (16:13.18) in 10th and 12th, respectively, West Plains junior Caleb Boys in 16th (16:15.58), Carthage junior Clayton Whitehead in 17th (16:15.72), Branson junior Keifer Dooley (16:16.19) and Kickapoo sophomore Brady Bauder in 21st (16:22.87).
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE CLASS 4 RACES
In the team competition, Blue Springs placed four runners in the top 28 to narrowly edge out West Plains for the title, 82-93.
After the event, West Plains head coach Joe Bill Dixon gave credit to a worthy rival.
“I thought we ran a good race,” Dixon said. “You’ve just got to try to run your plan and race the person ahead of you all the way. We just got beat by a little bit better team today. Blue Springs did a great job, and there was a lot of great running that went on here today. We’re not unhappy about what we did.”
In the girls’ race, Blue Springs South senior Victoria Findley ran away from the field for a first-place finish in 18:09.34.
The area’s top finisher was West Plains junior Kaylee Hatley in 11th (19:13.49). Hatley struggled through the finish and collapsed in the chute from exhaustion after the race. The Lady Zizzer was quick to credit head coach Alicia Gunter after the event.
“Coach has a saying,” Hatley said. “The race is going to hurt, but it’s going to hurt a lot less if you don’t give up. That was kind of the only thing that kept me going. I can give more, but it won’t mean as much if I don’t give all I have.
The only other area finisher in the top 25 was Willard sophomore Sydney Pyrah in 11th (19:18.77).
Park Hill South won the team overall competition with 92 points. The top area team was West Plains in 8th (217).