COLUMBIA — There were a few things that Smithville cross country coach Alex Moore was sure of.
He knew that the MSHSAA Class 3 race was going to be fast. But no one could’ve predicted the perfect storm that occurred at the first-ever state meet at Gans Creek Recreation Area on Saturday, Nov. 9.
With the combination of perfect weather, a flat course and comfortable grounds, personal best times were off the charts for most state runners.
And, luckily for Smithville’s girls team, they kept the pace and finished on the podium for a second straight season.
The Warriors collected 133 points to finish in third place, four points behind runners-up DeSoto. MICDS won the team title with 104 points.
“It was exciting,” Moore said. “Our girls came together and said that they wanted to get back into that podium finish.”
Junior Olivia Littleton ran a blistering 18:46 to take third place and finish as an all-stater.
“She knew that she had put everything into that race. There was nothing left,” Moore said. “It was an exciting race for her. She had no regrets about how she finished.”
Littleton finished behind runner-up Lilian Jackson of St. Charles West (18:39) and MICDS’ Julia Ray, who registered a state record time of 18:13. Ray’s record held up until Carolyn Ford of Rock Bridge bested her with an 18:08 in the Class 4 race.
So, a fast day on the new course indeed.
“It was a fast race and that’s always exciting,” Moore said of the first state race ran outside of Jefferson City since 1976. “You’re always wondering how fast it’s going to end up. But they ran a super disciplined race. It was pretty exciting to see them be patient out of the gate and to be able to move up and then the times were still good.”
Junior Emma Chevalier was the Warriors’ second runner across the finish line, finishing in 43rd. Her time was 20:17.
Junior Riley Kochanowicz turned in a time of 20:46 for 69th place, while junior Lillian Cutler finished in 20:55 for 78th and sophomore Avery Bannwarth (21:11) was 89th.
Smithville will return six of its seven state runners next year, with Regan Schmidt being the lone senior. She finished as the Warriors’ sixth finisher after her time of 21:47 and 119th place finish.
Freshman Genevieve Kochanowicz clocked in at 22:01 and in 132nd place to round out the Smithville squad.
“I’m just so proud of them,” Moore said. “These girls spend a lot of time together, putting in the miles and for all of it to come together and hit a podium finish is pretty special.”
Senior Jonah Palmer put together his best performance of the season to lead Smithville’s boys to a seventh-place team finish.
Palmer traversed the course in 16:30 and took 26th place, just one spot outside of all-state consideration.
Junior Talon Scott finished in 56th with a time of 17:15, while junior Quinton Wilson (17:24) was 70th, freshman Asa Kellner (17:33) was 81st and sophomore Regan Dunn (18:19, 126th) rounded out the scoring.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of them,” Moore said. “We had a lot of youth. But for Jonah to push out a 16:30 was just incredible. This year I don’t know if he was 50 seconds within that time. He left it all out there.”