By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It was East Newton’s day at the Class 3 District 6 cross country races Saturday in Hollister.
The Patriots boys placed five runners in the top seven and won the team title in convincing fashion, and East Newton’s girls also qualified for state by pulling off a one-point upset against Cassville to earn second place.
East Newton’s boys entered the day with the top three seeds in juniors Kelton Sorrell, Gabe Bergen and Garrett Downum. Sorrell won the race with a time of 16:41.86, besting Bergen’s second-place finish by nearly 30 seconds. Freshman Chase Sorrell earned third place, Downum was fifth and senior Marcus Shaeffer finished seventh.
“We dealt with a lot of adversity the last couple weeks,” East Newton coach Jake Holt said. “We had a kid get sick and another kid injured his knee. That was our three and five runners. We knew coming in that we were going to have a pretty good chance of winning and the objective was just to get through today because state was moved up to Thursday and maybe save a little bit today with it being such a fast turnaround.”
The Patriots won a district crown for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons. They finished Saturday with just 18 points, while Cassville (64) edged Forsyth (66) for second place.
East Newton finished third at the Class 2 state meet last season, three points behind Steelville and 41 behind Fatima. Holt expects his team to be ranked second in Class 3 on Thursday, behind Lutheran of St. Charles.
“They ran really well at their district (Friday),” he said. “I’d say they’re the heavy favorite. If we can hang on for a trophy Thursday, top four in Class 3 with the adversity we’ve faced – because one of my top guys was potentially All-State, now he’s just really recovering – that’d be great.”
Holt said Kelton Sorrell has a chance for a top-five finish at state. He placed 11th last year, Bergen placed 28th and Downum placed 32nd. Shaeffer also ran in the state meet.
Cassville finished the day with three state qualifiers. Senior Pace Evans was fourth overall, sophomore Caleb Leach was 12th and sophomore Jacob Martinez placed 15th.
Despite finishing third, Forsyth also earned three qualifiers. Senior Devyn Rains finished sixth, sophomore Levi Lux was 10th and senior Gavin Lux was 14th.
Hollister senior Jaxon Thomas placed eighth. Reeds Spring sophomore Evan Brandsma was ninth. Seneca senior Evanson St. Clair took 11th and Aurora sophomore Joseph Hargus finished 13th.
Hollister (78) was fourth in the team standings and Mt. Vernon was fifth.
Aurora girls earn first state berth
It’s been five years since the program’s inception, and Saturday marked the first district championship for the Aurora girls.
“They’re thrilled to have the chance to go to state,” head coach Melanie Crockett said. “I know COVID is kind of stopping some of that, the excitement of everybody getting to be there, but we’re taking advantage of the happiness we do have and the fact we have been able to finish our season.”
Junior Kaci Singer and senior Aubrey Boatwright both performed well at state last season, finishing 28th and 39th, respectively, and they were dominant in Saturday’s district race.
Singer was the individual champion and finished in 19:40.80. Boatwright placed third in 20:21.01. They finished fourth and seventh in last year’s district meet.
“(Singer) ran really well last year and then she had an injury that kind of held her back most of the season,” Crockett said. “Then she just had fire in her eyes to get it this time. That’s exactly what you want, you want them to peak at the end.”
All five of Aurora’s top runners medaled, and would have qualified for state individually even if the team hadn’t placed in the top two to move on as a whole. Sarahy Lopez placed eighth, Destiny Jaramillo was 12th and Maisie Phillips was 13th. All three are sophomores.
The East Newton girls, meanwhile, managed to overcome Cassville despite the Wildcats placing three runners in the top eight.
The Patriots were led by freshman Alonna Eytcheson’s fourth-place showing. Senior Ellie Hicks placed sixth, sophomore Dorothy Smith was 14th and sophomore Gracie Johnson finished 15th.
Hicks, Smith and Jasmine Hill (18th) all ran at the Class 2 state meet last year.
“We knew we were going to have to beat Cassville and we beat Cassville by one point to advance,” Holt said. “It was the first time we’ve beat them all season. Our girls really stepped up.
“We had several PR’s,” he said. “A girl who’s only run in one meet because of an iron deficiency came back today, was our number five and really bailed us out. We had a freshman girl be our number one today and she PR’d by 40 seconds. It was a fantastic run. Gracie Johnson broke 23 minutes for the first time ever. She made all-district by out sprinting a girl at the end. Dorothy Smith had her best time on the season and might have PR’d. She made all-district for the second year in a row.”
Cassville will still send three runners to state, though, and two of them are sophomores. Jordyn Stafford, a senior, placed fifth. Annie Moore finished seventh and Jolie Evans took 10th.
Other state qualifiers came from Mt. Vernon (freshman Rilee Simons was second), New Covenant (sophomore Anna McCune was ninth) and Clever (freshman Chloe Smith was 11th).