West Plains girls, Kickapoo boys win big at Ozark Conference XC meet

The West Plains girls and Kickapoo boys swept the top honors at the Ozark Conference Cross Country meet on Saturday.

WEST PLAINS GIRLS 

West Plains posted a meet-low 25 points to capture this year’s title. The victory made it back-to-back wins for the Lady Zizzers who also won the event in 2020.

The Kickapoo Chiefs logged 48 points to place second at the meet while the Rolla Bulldogs, with 103, finished third.

In picking up this year’s conference title all seven of Zizzers’ entrants placed among the top 14 finishers.

“These girls are just a really great bunch of kids,” said West Plains head coach Alicia Gunter. “They work so hard every day. They’re not just a group of kids, they’re a true team. Right now I couldn’t be happier for them and I love every one of them. ”

West Plains was paced by identical twin sisters Brayden and Jordan Kantola, and Jayna Gunter, who finished first, second and third at the meet. Brayden crossed the tape at 19:50.34, Jordan 20:05.22 and Jayna 20:21.05.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE RACE

“Today was really a great day for our team. We encouraged each other throughout the race and we ran solid in our packs,” said Jordan Kantola. “We got the win so now we can start looking forward to competing at district.”

In grabbing the 2021 top spot Brayden Kantola upended Kickapoo’s two time defending champion Klarie Brown to grab this year’s Ozark Conference individual title.

“I started out strong like my coach told me to and about a mile into the race I caught her,” said Brayden. “It was a good race and it felt good to win. Klarie is a very good runner though and I like racing with her a lot.”

But like her sister Jordan, Brayden feels that it’s already time for the Zizzers to move on.

“We wanted the win today and we got it,” said the West Plains senior. “But now it’s time for us to begin focusing on our upcoming district meet. We want to get through district as a whole team so we’ll all be able to compete at state.”

Klarie Brown, with a time of 20:24.11, posted the second place Kickapoo Chief’s top time. Pacing the third place Rolla Bulldog effort was Isabella Frost with a time of 21:12.94.

Ozark Conference Results
1 – West Plains – 25
2 – Kickapoo – 48
3 – Rolla – 103
4 – Bolivar – 133
5 – Lebanon – 141
6 – Glendale – 155
7 – Parkview – 163
8 – Camdenton – 163
9 – Waynesville – 272
10 – Central – 313

Top Medalists
1 – Brayden Kantola – 19:50.34 – West Plains
2 – Jordan Kantola – 20:05.22 – West Plains
3 – Jayna Gunter – 20:21.05 – West Plains
4 – Klarie Brown – 20:24.11 – Kickapoo
5 – Lilah Genel – 20:52.34 – Parkview
6 – Sally Cybulski – 21:04.17 – Kickapoo
7 – Isabella Frost – 21:12.94 – Rolla
8 – Addison Sanders – 21:24.32 – West Plains
9 – Bridget Ragan – 21:35.82 – Rolla
10 – Charlotte Cones – 21:40-19 – Kickapoo
11 – Kyia Weisbrod – 21:41.87 – West Plains
12 – Galiena Colon – 21:45.74 – Kickapoo
13 – Kaylee Lambe – 21:57.11 – West Plains
14 – Daphnie Dollins – 22:13.83 – West Plains

KICKAPOO BOYS

The Kickapoo Chiefs raced to their fourth straight Ozark Conference Championship on Saturday at Lake Springfield in dominating fashion.

Led by champion Tyler Harris’ time of 16:24.32, the Chiefs scored 29 points en route to this year’s conference title, 42 points better than the second place West Plains, which closed out its race with 71. Third place went to the Bolivar Liberators who tallied 91.

“Our kids did run well today,” said Kickapoo head coach Jeremy Goddard. “We had five runners finish in the top eleven. That’s a great effort from our kids and I’m very proud of them all.”

The course at Lake Springfield seemed to be a perfect fit for Harris.

“Tyler’s a bear, especially on hills. Put him on hills and he eats them alive,” said Goddard. “I don’t know if there’s many runners in the state that could beat him on a hilly course like we had here today.”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE RACE

According to Harris, he didn’t wait long to make his move on the pack.

“I think the first hill on our first lap was where I made my move today,” said Harris. “Everybody likes to sprint down the hills, but I like to grind up the hills too, I feel like they’re a place where I can gain some ground.”

Harris finished some 13 seconds ahead of Rolla’s Nate Pohlsander, this year’s individual runner-up, who came in at 16:37.66.

But Harris, who placed second at last year’s Ozark Conference meet, says that this year’s race was much different from those in the past.

“Running alone is hard. Last year I had West Plains’ Riley Simpson, the 2020 conference winner, to push me,” said Harris. “I didn’t have that today so I had to do it alone.”

“But it is good to get this meet behind us,” he said. “Now it’s time for district. Except for one senior we’re all juniors. We’ve been working hard for three years with an eye on doing well at state. That all starts for us at district. We hope to do well.”

Crossing the tape first for the second place West Plains Zizzers was Brodie Callahan with a time of 17:27.47. Tops on the scorecard for the third place Bolivar Liberators was Cale Thiesssen with a 17:13.20.

Ozark Conference Results
1 – Kickapoo – 29
2 – West Plains – 71
3 – Bolivar – 91
4 – Glendale – 121
5 – Central – 142
6 – Rolla – 145
7 – Lebanon – 164
8 – Waynesville – 202
9 – Parkview – 211
10 – Hillcrest – 274

Top Medalists
1 – Tyler Harris – 16:24.32 – Kickapoo
2 – Nate Pohlsander – 16:37.66 – Rolla
3 – Kyle Keltner – 17:07.18 – Kickapoo
4 – Cale Thiessen – 17:13.20 – Bolivar
5 – Brooklyn Creehan – 17:15.07 – Kickapoo
6 – Conner Ayres – 17:22.68 – Parkview
7 – Guadalupe Rodriguez – 17:23.49 – Rolla
8 – Brodie Callahan – 17:27.47 – West Plains
9 – Jack Creehan – 17:36.34 – Kickapoo
10 – Sam Rhinehart – 17:57.43 – Glendale
11 – Colby Goddard – 17:59.88 – Kickapoo
12 – Drew Stewart – 18:08.09 – West Plains
13 – Luther Supancic – 18:14.77 – Waynesville
14 – Cody Wilmsmeyer – 18:23.79 – Glendale

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