By Chris Parker
There are many talented cross country runners across our coverage area. Below are some of the top XC runners to watch this season
This watchlist can be found in print in the Fall O-Zone Preview Magazine available this week at all southwest Missouri Casey’s general stores.
Daelen Ackley – El Dorado Springs, Junior
Ackley was dominant last year as a sophomore. He won the Class 2 state title with a time of 15:39.0, which was 22 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. That was the eighth-fastest time posted on the state course of the 683 competitors across the four classes. Ackley also was the top finisher at the SWCCCA.
Riley Arnold – Blue Eye, Junior
Arnold is now the two-time defending state champion in Class 1. She won last year’s meet in a time of 18:53.80. She helped lead Blue Eye to the Class 1 team state title. Her time of 19:18.25 at the SWCCCA meet was good enough for second, beating out 229 other competitors.
Alicen Ashley – Nixa, Junior
Ashley made strong improvement in her sophomore year going from 43rd at state as a freshman to an all-state 15th-place finish in a time of 18:55.30 as a sophomore. Ashley is the reigning Central Ozark Conference champion after she dominated the meet, winning by 39 seconds. Ashley finished runner-up at the district meet and sixth at the sectional meet.
Klarie Brown – Kickapoo, Sophomore
Brown was the area’s top female runner last year. She started off her freshman year by winning the SWCCCA meet with a time of 19:16.70. Her postseason was just as dominant as well with Brown winning the individual title at the conference, district and sectional meets. She capped her freshman year with a sixth-place finish at the Class 4 state meet.
Joseph Dawson – Webb City, Senior
Dawson earned all-state honors at the Class 4 state meet finishing 15th overall with a time of 15:51.1. He was the runner-up at the COC meet, as he helped lead Webb City to the COC team title. Dawson also had finishes of seventh place at district (16:46.26) and 10th place at sectionals (15:51.30).
Kiersten Potter – Lamar, Freshman
Potter’s freshman season was capped off with an all-state finish in Class 3. Her time of 19:32.0 was good enough for 17th overall, which was the top Class 3 finish for any area runner. She also was the Big 8 champion with a time of 19:50.80, which was 16 seconds faster than the runner-up.
Sam Shuman – Spokane, Senior
Shuman is poised for a big senior year after finishing third overall at the Class 2 state meet with a time of 16:06.30. He was dominant at the district meet running a time of 16:33.70, which bested the second-place finisher by almost 27 seconds. Shuman was eighth overall at the SWCCCA meet.
Riley Simpson – West Plains, Senior
Simpson is the top returning runner for the Zizzers this season after finishing 19th at the Class 4 state meet in a time of 15:54.30. Simpson finished third overall at the Ozark Conference meet, as he led the Zizzers to a runner-up finish. At the district and sectional meets, Simpson finished third overall.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Avery Arnold – Blue Eye, Junior
Emily Bandy – Bolivar, Senior
Ethan Billingslea – Bolivar, Senior
Ryan Cardenzana – Blue Eye, Junior
Riley Hawkins – Webb City, Junior
Landon Hendrickson – Rogersville, Senior
Elizabeth Kitchin – Ozark, Junior
Hannah Klaiber – El Dorado Springs, Sophomore
Bryan Obarr – Waynesville, Senior
Kelton Sorrell – East Newton, Junior
Kaci Singer – Aurora, Junior
Cora Stimpson – Bolivar, Senior