Even before the New Franklin boys cross-country team stepped foot on the course Saturday for the state meet at Oak Hills Golf Course in Jefferson City, they had already fulfilled one of their goals by sending a team to state.
After finishing second the week before at the district meet in St. Charles, the Bulldogs also had three members who would have qualified individually by finishing in the top 15.
Although conditions for Saturday’s state cross-country meet were not ideal, New Franklin cross-country coach Adam Quest said he wanted to make sure the boys had a fun experienced at the state meet with the excitement of qualifying for state and the district meet behind them.
“I knew it would be difficult for us to place as a team, so I challenged the boys to set a personal goal for themselves to try to achieve,” Quest said. “Only two of our runners had seen this difficult course before, and I think many of them were a little nervous. In the end, they all gave it their all and came away with an experience to remember. When it comes down to it, that’s all that matters. And being that all six of our boys will be back next year, I am hoping to build on this experience and make our visit to the state meet a regular one.”
With 179 runners competing in just Class 1 alone, New Franklin juniors Tyler Perkins and Sam Ridgeway both had an inkling of what to expect in their second trip to the state meet.
“It’s just a great experience to see everyone here and see all of the schools from across the state and just being able to run,” Ridgeway said. “I think one of the coolest parts is just seeing how many people come to watch. I am sad to see it end but I can’t wait for my senior year because we are going to have a good team and I am hoping to get first at districts next year. We got second this year so hopefully we can do even better next year and have some new kids and new runners and improve a lot on next year.”
With the course already showing signs of wear and tear from the four previous races (Class 4 girls, Class 3 girls, Class 4 boys and Class 3 boys), the New Franklin boys and its six members were ready to tackle the course, which is considered to be one of the toughest in the state.
Of course after managing their way through the course, which had both hills and slippery turns, Perkins emerged as the first runner for Bulldogs to cross the finish line in 100th place in a time of 20:05.59.
Chase Ratliff of Weaubleau crossed the finish first in Class 1 in a time of 17:10.73. Titus Thompson of S.O.T.O. finished second in a time of 17:22.47, followed by Max Davies of West Platte in 17:28.18, Jesse Schultz of Kansas City Lutheran in 17:38 and Dalton Hendrix of Liberal in 17:49.09.
Perkins said he felt like his team was a little bit better than last year but not too much better.
“All of these hills kind of slowed us down even though I tried to do hills in practice,” Perkins said. “It just didn’t really feel as good as I thought it would. I was hoping to finish in the top 80 but I didn’t get that. I’m a little disappointed. The hills were pretty bad. I passed people but not as many people as I wanted to. I was trying to find a runner that was in front of me that I usually beat but this time he wasn’t in front of me so I just tried to catch another runner.
“I was just trying to catch him but he just kept going faster and faster so I just went faster and faster and I caught him at the end. I am trying to get here every single time that I can and hopefully have a team, also.”
Ridgeway also had a goal to finish in the top 100 but fell short after placing in 127th place in a time of 20:40.70.
“I fell short of my first goal to finish in the top 100 but I met my goal to finish around 20 minutes which I did so I think I did pretty well,” Ridgeway said. “I was pretty happy with my time because this was a really tough course. It’s wasn’t my best time but then again its a tough course. I think I hit the wall about at two and a quarter miles. There was a giant hill and it just really hurt me. I was doing well until that.”
Asa Fischer had the third fastest time for the Bulldogs by placing 163rd in 22:05.84, followed by Hayden Wiseman in 172nd place in 23:11.57, Douglass Creason in 177th place in 25:56.92 and Logan Pierce in 179th place in 27:41.33.
In the final team standings, Kansas City Lutheran finished first with 86 points. Oak Ridge placed second with 102 points, followed by Liberal with 106 points, Fair Play with 140 points, Blue Eye with 151 points, Russellville with 175 points, West Platte with 187 points, North Platte with 187 points, North Platte with 197 points, Meadville with 208 points, Crane with 241 points, Winona with 251 points, Delta with 260 points, Glasgow in 13th place with 337 points, Wellsville with 341 points, Dora with 364 points and New Franklin in 16th place with 420.