If history is any indicator of future performance, then Saturday’s Class 4 District 5 cross country meet will likely deliver rewards for Hickman and Rock Bridge.
Hickman seniors Tim Cornell and Brianne Gallagher and Rock Bridge’s record-breaking boys team have had standout seasons this year.
Cornell and Gallagher each have four individual wins at meets. After winning last year’s state championship, Cornell is one of the favorites to capture his second consecutive state title. Gallagher is a returning state medalist.
Rock Bridge won three invitationals this year setting the school record for most wins in a season.
“This team has definitely exceeded my expectations, and they know coach would like to see his team get as far as possible,” Rock Bridge coach Neal Blackburn said.
Blackburn said the top four teams in the district are Fort Zumwalt South, Hickman, Jefferson City and Rock Bridge. The Bruins have not faced Hickman this year, and Jefferson City beat Rock Bridge at the Missouri Cross Country Challenge Sept. 11.
“By no means would it be a disappointment to our season if we did not advance,” Blackburn said. “But it is definitely a goal of ours.”
The top four teams from the meet will advance to sectionals with the top 30 individual runners also moving on.
Cornell has won his past four races. He has not lost since finishing third at the McCluer North Invitational on Sept. 11.
“He’s special because of his work ethic in practice and the presence he has on the team, especially on the freshmen,” Hickman coach Steve Kissane said.
Cornell and other varsity runners had an extra week to train and rest after the Oct. 9 meet in Jefferson City since Kissane did not run them in Saturday's meet against Rolla. Senior Kurt Schauwecker finished first against Rolla, adding a fourth individual win in the last four meets for Hickman.
Cornell said he hopes the extra rest will allow him to run better in the district meet. Kissane said his team is healthy for the most part.
Gallagher will be vying for her fifth win of the season Saturday. Last year, her second-place finish at the district meet led the Kewpies to a second-place finish as a team.