By Chris Parker
It was a big day for the West Plains Cross Country program at the Class 4 State Cross Country meet. The Lady Zizzers started the day by winning the program’s 13th team championship. West Plains senior Riley Simpson dominated the boys race to claim the individual title in a time of 15:39.6.
The West Plains girls were able to pull off their title thanks to a huge comeback over the last kilometer. After 4,000 meters, West Plains trailed Cor Jesu Academy by 15 points in the team race.
Then the Lady Zizzers went to work.
Brayden Kantola was across the line first for West Plains in third place with a time of 18:43.8. Jordan Kantola crossed next in sixth at 19:02.4. Jayna Gunter (ninth – 19:13.4) and Kaylee Lambe (12th – 19:27.9) took the third and fourth spots. Both Jordan Kantola (up one spot) and Lambe (up four spots) moved up in the final 1,000 meters.
Ultimately, the team race was decided by West Plains’ No. 5 runner Daphnie Dollins. Dollins ran the most clutch kilometer of her life passing 19 runners over the final 1,000 meters to improve cut 14 points from the West Plains team total.
Dollins covered the final kilometer in 3:51.2, which was one second faster than her time in the first kilometer of the race. That was the 12th fastest closing kilometer for any of the 153 runners who finished the race.
Bolivar’s Cora Stimpson finished 23rd overall with a time of 19:42.0 to earn all-state honors.
In the boys’ race, Simpson was dominant leading wire-to-wire. He opened up with a 2:56.2 first kilometer before settling in to run 3:02.1, 3:16.5, 3:15.0 and 3:09.9 on his way to a finish time of 15:39.6.
Willard’s Thomas Shuster finished fifth with a time of 16:08.3, which was just ahead of Rogersville’s Landon Hendrickson and his time of 16:12.5 to finish sixth.
Webb City was paced by Joseph Dawson in 13th place with a time of 16:25.0. He along with Roman Borboa (21st), Dustin Brockmiller (26th), Owen Weller (51st), Samuel Winesburg (55th), Evan Stevens (59th) and Jose Banda-antillon (64th) combined to post a team score of 97 and finish second. That number tied with West Plains, but Webb City won the tiebreaker.
Drew Stewart (23rd), Justin Fleetwood (29th), Brodie Callahan (42nd) and JD Sydow (65th) rounded out the scoring for the third place finishing Zizzers.
Neosho’s Kaden Cole (14th – 16:26.0), Rolla’s Nate Pohlsander (16th – 16:32.5), Bolivar’s Ethan Billingslea (17th – 16:34.5), Carl Junction’s Collin Emmert (18th – 16:34.8) and Bolivar’s Cale Thiessen (24th – 16:42.4).
Bolivar finished fifth overall as a team with 130 points. Neosho finished 10th as a team.