They have met the first challenge, but the next is even greater.
After qualifying at the District 5 meet Oct. 25, runners from Hickman and Rock Bridge will race at the Sectional 3 cross country meet Saturday at Bethel Park. Eight boys teams and nine girls teams will race, and the top four teams and top 30 individuals will advance to the state championship Nov. 8 in Jefferson City.
Hickman enters two teams. The girls won the District 5 meet and the boys placed third. Hickman coach Steve Kissane said that his team is excited about the opportunity and has worked hard to reach this point.
“Our kids have dealt with all the obstacles that face most teams in this quest and have handled them well,” Kissane said.
Last year at sectionals, Hickman’s girls’ team placed third. Aileen Gallagher and Janelle Cordia were among four Kewpies runners to finish in the top 30 at the meet. They will race again this year with Brianne Gallagher, Katie McInvale and Carrie Hargrove.
Last year, Hickman’s boys’ team placed fifth in the sectional but had three individual qualifiers with juniors Tim Cornell and Matt Richmond finishing in the top 30. This year, Kurt Schauwecker and Alex Sable-Smith join them.
“We have had great leadership on the boy’s side from Tim Cornell, both in meets and practice,” Kissane said.
Kissane said Hickman’s goal this year is to qualify as a team in both races.
“The challenge is to be in the top four teams and advance both squads to the state meet,” Kissane said.
This year, Rock Bridge has five individuals competing. Sarah Phillips and Anne Case-Halferty will run in the girls’ race, and Jimmy Keown, Brian Cooksey and Ryan Deason will run in the boys’ race. Rock Bridge coach Neal Blackburn said he believes his runners will be among the best in the race.
“Just competing in the postseason is an honor, but I want them to not be satisfied with just competing and really step up and have a groundbreaking preformance,” Blackburn said.
Last year, the Bruins sent both teams to sectionals after placing fourth at districts. At sectionals, the girls placed sixth and the boys eighth. Phillips was the only Bruins runner to qualify for the state meet. She finished 19th at the sectional in 19:48 and went on to 101st at state in 22:21.3.
Blackburn said he thinks his runners are well prepared, and they are more familiar with the course than other teams.
“I think that this is what the kids have been training for all year long,” Blackburn said. “They haven’t taken for granted the fact that they’ll run at sectionals, but this has been part of their plan all along. They aren’t going in like deer in headlights.”