By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Columbia, Mo. — Missouri unveiled a brand new location its 2019 state championships in Columbia’s Gans Creek cross country course.
Designed specifically for cross country events by Columbia Parks and Recreation and the University of Missouri, the brand new course is the first to host the state meet following Jefferson City’s 42-year run.
1,369 runners in four classes descended on the area for Saturday’s championship races.
In the Class 3 boys race, Excelsior Springs senior Michael Rebello captured individual honors with a 15:29.4 finish.
Rogersville’s Jay Strausbaugh represented the area’s top finisher.
The senior posted a 15:57.7 fifth-place finish.
“It was really fast,” Strausbaugh said of the start. “I just went out and tried to go with the front pack as long as I could. They started pulling away, so I just tried to stay with anyone that was near me, and we kept going on.”
As someone with multiple state appearances, Strausbaugh compared the nuances between the relatively flat Gans Creek course and Jefferson City’s aptly-named Oak Hill course.
“The hills on the other course were just breaking people,” Strausbaugh said. “If you had the heart to run at the front, the hills would kill you. This course was just about seeing who could go out as fast as they could and keep that.”
Lamar senior Kolin Overstreet (tenth) was the area’s only other top-ten finisher.
In the team competition, Festus dominated the competition with a 39-point first-place finish. Bolivar was the lone area team on the podium with a third-place finish.
While the Liberators weren’t found in the massive lead pack early on, head coach Ron Bandy indicated that was — at least partly — by design.
“We got out a little bit slower,” Bandy said. “I kind of told them to be patient off the gun. I knew the first mile was going to be very congested — we’re talking about the 150-, 160-something of the fastest kids in the state — so I wanted to be more patient.”
Bolivar’s patience paid off, as its runners slowly started moving up through the ranks, allowing the team to strengthen its hold on third place.
“Our strength has always been that last K,” Bandy said. “The race hit that two mile, then they really started driving in — they didn’t disappoint. As things started stringing out, it just came to our favor. I’m so very proud of these boys.”
Class 3 O-Zone Boys All-State Finishers
5. Jay Strausbaugh, Rogersville (15:57.7)
10. Kolin Overstreet, Lamar (16:09.1)
11. Peter Bowling, Bolivar (16:11.4)
13. Landon Hendrickson, Rogersville (16:13.8)
Class 3 O-Zone Boys Top Team Finishes
3. Bolivar – 107
In the girls race, MICDS freshman Julia Ray cruised to an individual title with an 18:13.8 finish.
Lamar freshman Kiersten Potter (17th) and Bolivar junior Emily Bandy (20th) were the only area runners to place in the top 25.
On the strength of Ray’s finish, MICDS also captured the overall team title.
Bolivar and Carl Junction finished in ninth and tenth place, respectively.
Class 3 O-Zone Girls All-State Finishers
17. Kiersten Potter, Lamar (19:32.0)
20. Emily Bandy, Bolivar (19:35.5)
Class 3 O-Zone Girls Top Team Finishes
9. Bolivar – 207
10. Carl Junction – 217