By Michael Cignoli (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
NIXA — Between the deejay’s music, the screams of spectators lining the course and all of the other sounds that accompany a cross country race, Logan-Rogersville coach Josh Hart couldn’t quite hear the announcement when it came over the public address system on Monday evening.
He heard the Wildcats needed to send someone to the finish line, and assumed it was because someone at Inman Intermediate School had turned in an item one of his runners had misplaced.
Hart turned to the athlete closest to him, freshman Railey Stillings, and provided instructions.
“Go get whatever we lost,” the coach yelled.
Stillings made her way back to the finish line, where she became the first person from the Wildcats to realize the item wasn’t something they had lost. It was something they won.
The Big 8 Conference race results had gone final, and the Logan-Rogersville girls had won the team title. The announcement was to notify the team to come pick up the plaque.
Stillings, who holds the Logan-Rogersville Middle School record for the 100-meter dash, may have shattered that time after she grabbed the plaque and ran to tell her coach and teammates.
“It feels so very awesome,” Stillings said. “I don’t really know how to express it. A lot of our runners just stepped up today and really kicked some butt. Me, I’m not normally one to place really good. I’m normally one of our slower ones and I kicked and I felt like that really helped us. It felt amazing and I’m glad to bring Rogersville home a plaque that says champions again.”
Logan-Rogersville won without any of its runners placing among the top 13 finishers, as all but five teams — the Wildcats, East Newton, Lamar, Monett and Catholic — ran the girls race without a full roster. Runners from the shorthanded schools did not score points in the team event.
Anna Snodderly, Caelyn Wood and Tiya Retchloff placed 14th, 15th and 16th for the Wildcats, which improved to 5th, 6th and 7th as nine of the top 13 finishers were from ineligible schools.
The Wildcats were familiar with that feeling, as there were several races last season where they did not have a full five-person roster. But when Hart took over the program at the start of this season, he prioritized recruitment and built a roster to hopefully prevent a similar fate this year.
“We won over a few girls to come out that didn’t last year,” Hart said. “They’re just a great group of kids. They have fun running. We said ‘Hey, move up here. Beat that one there. You’ll get some spots. You’ll rank.’ That’s what they did today. I won’t lie, I was thoroughly surprised.”
Its depth on full display, Logan-Rogersville won even though senior and usual top performer Lilli Caldwell missed the race with an injury. Stillings placed 24th, good for 13 points, and a 28th-place finish from Aisley James got the Wildcats another 16. Logan-Rogersville finished with 47, while perennial Big 8 powers East Newton and Lamar tied for second with 60 each.
The rest of the day’s awards went to Lamar, as the Tigers boys won their first title since 2017 by defeating two-time defending East Newton, 44-49. The Patriots have edged Lamar in virtually every other race they’ve run this season, but Lamar had four of the top 15 finishers on Monday.
“We had a couple runners step up and run better than what they have been running,” Tigers coach Rodney Baldridge said. “You know, that makes a big difference.”
One of the Tigers who stepped up was Joe Kremp, who won the race in 16 minutes, 12.61 seconds. That was about 12 seconds ahead of Logan-Rogersville’s Landon Hendrickson.
“I struggled a lot this season to turn great times,” said Kremp, the individual Big 8 boys champion. “Winning that was definitely a confidence booster. I felt really good.”
Another was Lamar sophomore Kiersten Potter, who posted her best time of the season — 19 minutes, 19.91 seconds — to win the girls race and earn back-to-back individual girls titles.
Potter finished more than a minute clear of Aurora’s Aubrey Boatwright, and only four girls — Boatwright, Marshfield’s Reagan Smith, Mt. Vernon’s Rilee Simons, and East Newton’s Ellie Hicks — finished within two minutes of Potter. Potter was satisfied, but wanted more.
“I was hoping to break 19 (minutes) today,” Potter said, “but I’m so happy with my time.”
Lamar had a combined six boys and girls runners on the all-conference teams, more than any other school, which bodes well for the Tigers as they prepare for the upcoming district and state meets. For now, though, Baldridge was happy to celebrate Monday’s championship runs.
“(Kiersten has) done a great job for us,” Baldridge said. “She’s, I think, fighting off a few injuries but she ran well today. Joe is one of those kids who has just continued to get better and better every year. I’m really happy for him. He’s put in the work. He’s such a hard worker. Couldn’t be happier for him.”
GIRLS TEAM RESULTS
1. Logan-Rogersville, 47
T-2. East Newton, 60
T-2. Lamar, 60
4. Monett, 81
5. Catholic, 95
No other school had at least five runners
GIRLS ALL-CONFERENCE RESULTS
1. Kiersten Potter, Lamar — 19:19.91
2. Aubrey Boatwright, Aurora — 20:20.01
3. Reagan Smith, Marshfield — 20:41.20
4. Rilee Simons, Mt. Vernon — 20:52.76
5. Ellie Hicks, East Newton — 21:18.09
6. Serenity Crosby, Marshfield — 21:28.31
7. Alonna Eytcheson, East Newton — 21:29.82
8. Allie Rains, Nevada — 21:31.65
9. Jordyn Stafford, Cassville — 21:50.21
10. Kara Morey, Lamar — 21:55.39
11. Sarahy Lopez, Aurora — 22:02.16
12. Avery Morris, Nevada — 22:06.09
13. Melysia Mccrory, McDonald County — 22:12.56
14. Anna Snodderly, Logan-Rogersville — 22:27.15
15. Caelyn Wood, Logan-Rogersville — 22:35.19
BOYS TEAM RESULTS
1. Lamar, 44
2. East Newton, 59
3. Logan-Rogersville, 122
4. Catholic, 127
5. Nevada, 128
6. Mt. Vernon, 150
7. Hollister, 161
8. Marshfield, 185
T-9. Reeds Spring, 209
T-9. McDonald County, 209
No other school had at least five runners
BOYS ALL-CONFERENCE RESULTS
1. Joe Kremp, Lamar — 16:12.61
2. Landon Hendrickson, Logan-Rogersville — 16:24.52
3. Kelton Sorrell, East Newton — 16:29.80
4. Ethan Pittsenbarger, Lamar — 16:49.94
5. Gabe Bergen, East Newton — 17:00.48
6. Julio Cruz Jr., Monett — 17:07.81
7. Chase Sorrell, East Newton — 17:20.63
8. Jose Salas Esquivel, Monett — 18:13.42
9. Kaden Padgett, Nevada — 18:14.04
10. Quintin Webb, Lamar — 18:18.87
11. Zach Mitchell, Marshfield — 18:19.34
12. Ryder Randles, Logan-Rogersville — 18:33.31
13. Kaiden Bennett, Logan-Rogersville — 18:35.90
14. Jaxon Thomas, Hollister — 18:36.28
15. Jacob Morrison, Lamar — 18:37.22