The Glendale duo of senior Chris Mooneyham and Spencer Haik finished their partnership on the cross country course on Saturday just the way they had planned: as the best one-two punch the state of Missouri has to offer.
“We trained all season for this, Chris and I, trying to be the best 1-2 in the state and we came out here and proved it today,” Haik said.
The Glendale duo finished second and third in the race behind Blue Springs senior Simon Belete, but that was more a testament to what Belete could do and not what the Glendale duo lacked.
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“It (the early pace) was a little quick. I wasn’t expecting Simon to get out that fast and hold. I just focused on his back and got as close as I could before the finish,” Mooneyham said. “I thought he would fade, but he didn’t. He is a strong kid.”
Mooneyham crossed the line in a total time of 15:53.74 and Haik was right behind in a time of 15:56.60 to cap off a race that could have gone a number of ways at the gun.
“On any given day any of those athletes could beat each other and this was Simon’s day and God bless that. He did great and he deserved it,” Glendale cross country coach Jeff Berryessa said. “Our guys aren’t unhappy. The only person to beat them in postseason is Simon, so we feel pretty good about that.”
The Ozark conference wasn’t done in the race either as Kickapoo senior Ian Frazier crossed the line in seventh place in time of 16:13.32. Ozark’s Kyler Haumann also broke the tape in the top 25 in 15th place.
“I was pretty happy to represent it (the Ozark Conference) with those (Glendale) guys. I think we did a pretty good job with us and West Plains getting a trophy,” Frazier said.
That trophy for West Plains Frazier alluded to was the 32nd for the Zizzer’s in Joe Bill Dixon’s 35 years at West Plains.
West Plains finished fourth after taking losing all but one runner from last year’s third place team, which is a feat even a seasoned coach like Dixon did not expect at the beginning of the season.
“I don’t know if there is anything magical about it, but I am real proud of the group. When the year started I would have been happy for them to qualify for state. I think they overachieved and it was a real honor to make the stand again,” Dixon said.
Glendale and Kickapoo also brought teams to the meet and finished side-by-side in 12th and 13th.
On the girls side, Branson senior Brigette Caruthers closed out her career with a fourth place finish in a time of 19:01.35 after finished third last year. Caruthers went for it early as she was in third at the mile, but dropped back a bit in the latter miles.
“I did what I wanted to do. I wanted to go out hard at the mile, hang on for the second mile and just see what was left for the third one,” Caruthers said. “I was disappointed I couldn’t go any better than third, but I am content with how I did.”
Even though her coveted third place finish was out of reach that didn’t stop her from battling for each spot to the end as she finally passed Francis Howell junior Kristen Adams on the final stretch.
“It was tough. She wasn’t letting me pass her at first. I was getting frustrated, but then I went on the other side,” Caruthers said.
Glendale senior Ellyn Atkinson made the most of her first and last trip to the State meet with a 17th place finish.
Early on it did not look like an All-State finish was going to be in the cards.
“If there were 150 kids, she was probably 100 or 110. They just got out really fast and she was behind. All year long we have had to make up ground,” Berryessa said. “We knew the start was going to be really tough and it was for her, but she went right through it.”
Atkinson wasn’t fazed by her deep early deficit either.
“My starts are notorious for not being great because I don’t have the leg speed to start off a full out sprint like some of the other girls,” Atkinson said. “My race strategy is that I am strong, so I am able to make that distance up that I lose on the first few minutes of the race.”
The Glendale senior came through the mile in 33rd place, but ran the ninth-best second mile split in the field to make up for lost ground.
Camdenton freshman Tessa Weber was just in front of Atkinson in 14th place. Parkview senior Sayra Villela clocked a time of 19:29 to finish 20th.
Nixa and West Plains finished 15th and 16th in the team competition.
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