With six boys and six girls out for the 2016 season in cross-country, Boonville coach Blake Bodenhamer knew the cupboard was far from bare with a total of four returning from last year.
On Tuesday in a meet at Salisbury Municipal Golf Course, Bodenhamer got to see the Pirates and Lady Pirates compete for the first time against a field of 13 teams.
As expected, Father Tolton captured first in both the boys and girls divisions with a total of 55 and 38 points, respectively. The Boonville girls finished fourth overall with 94 points while the boys placed seventh with 159 points.
Bodenhamer said he was excited for this meet because it is always a good meet to get the preseason "jitters" out of the way.  
“I also anticipate it because it is often the first time I get to see my new runners compete,” Bodenhamer said.  “Since the majority of our team are newcomers this year, with only four returning members, I was that much more excited.  Overall, it was a good experience all around for all of our athletes.  The course showed us what some of our strengths were coming out of preseason training, as well as, some areas that we need to focus on in practice for the upcoming meets.”
Hayden Hackman of Glasgow had the fastest overall time in 12 minutes and 33 seconds while Alexa Newkirk of Southern Boone turned in the fastest time for the girls in 14 minutes and 27 seconds.
As for the Boonville girls, junior Blake Allison finished 22nd out of 40 runners in a time of 18 minutes and 52 seconds. Annabel Carter placed 31st overall in 20 minutes and 39 seconds, followed by Grace Schupp in 34th place in 21 minutes 23 seconds, Jessica Grathwohl in 35th place in 22 minutes and 3 seconds, Emily Painter in 38th place in 25 minutes and 38 secnds and Kimberly Sandy in 40th place in 26 minutes and 26 seconds.
Bodenhamer said one standout performance that he wanted to point out from the Salisbury Meet on the girls side of things was from Blake Allison.  He said Allison is one of our returning members of the girls team.  “She showed great leadership tonight before, during, and after the race,” Bodenhamer said.  She lead the girls in their warm ups, was the lead runner of our girls, and had only positive things to say to other teammates that may have been disappointed with their times or performances.  One thing that we are going to work on with the girls team in the upcoming week is to improve their level of endurance.”
For the Boonville boys, senior Austin Wray finished 30th out of 69 runners in a time of 14 minutes and 50 seconds. Josh Ewings placed 41st overall in 15 minutes and 30 seconds, followed by Cale Fox in 43rd place in 15 minutes and 37 seconds, Nick Ewings in 51st place in 16 minutes and 52 seconds and Dylan Bennett in 52nd place in 16 minutes and 58 seconds.
Bodenhamer said on the boys side of things, he was very pleased with Austin Wray, Josh Ewings, and Cale Fox's performances in particular.  
“I expected Austin Wray to run as well as he did, being that this is his fourth year running cross country and the intensity level that he has been giving at practice,” Bodenhamer said. “He had great pacing throughout the race and gave a great final kick towards the finish line passing multiple runners.  Both Josh Ewings and Cale Fox are new to the team this year and had competitive performances.  Josh Ewings is a junior and Cale Fox is a freshman, so I am excited to see what they can achieve this year and what is to come for them down the road in their running career.  For the boys, we are going to focus on some speed training in the upcoming week of practice.”
With a total of 12 runners out for the season, Bodenhamer said the outlook is fairly positive. He said all of the kids are showing good signs.
“We have a different chemistry this season,” Bodenhamer said. “The people that stayed for a reason are here because they are serious about running, and I think the newcomers see that and have picked up on it. They are striving to be like the veteran runners.”
With four different phases of running, which Bodenhamer implemented this season, he said the first phase is for endurance building while the second phase is for strength and speed. As for phase 3, he said this phase is for when the team is getting heavy into meets and will spend time on interval training. Meanwhile, in phase 4, he said this phase is to prepare the kids for high stake meets such as conference, districts and state.
As for the conference this season, Bodenhamer said Moberly is always good but also mentioned Fulton to be one of the top contenders. As for Boonville, he said they are in the middle of the pack.
“I think we have good leadership from both Blake and Grace on the girls side and Austin on the boys said,” Bodenhamer said of the strengths of the team this season. “As for the weaknesses, we have more newcomers than veteran runners. This season we are setting goals meet by meet. A lot of runners are looking at their times from previous courses while others want to give it a good kick at the end and don’t let anybody pass at the second mile into the race.”
As for the returners this season for the boys, Bodenhamer said Wray will begin his fourth year in cross-country and is the unquestionable leader of the group. While turning in a seasons best time of 22.31 at conference last year, Bodenhamer said he is expecting quite a bit from Austin this season. “Austin is putting even more effort because of last year,” Bodenhamer said. “I expect him to get past districts this year.”
Charlie Pumel also returns from last year after posting a seasons best time of 19:44 at Fulton. Bodenhamer said if Pumel is close to what he did last year, he will be successful.
As for Dylan Bennett, Josh Ewings, Nick Ewings and Cale Fox, who are all newcomers, Bodenhamer said they are all putting in the effort and trying to stay with the older guys.
For the Boonville girls, junior Blake Allison returns with the best time from last year at 23:46 in the Marshall meet. Bodenhamer said Allison is more motivated this year and has stepped into the leadership role.
Also returning this season for the Lady Pirates is senior Grace Schupp. With a season best time of 24:56 last year at Moberly, Bodenhamer said Schupp has improved her endurance from last year and has also become a team leader.
As for the remaining four runners (Annabel Carter, Jessica Grathwohl, Emily Painter and Kimberly Sandy), Bodenhamer said the leaders are pushing them hard and they are pushing each other in practice.