There was a time in St. Teresa’s senior Ann Campbell’s running career — and it wasn’t that long ago, really — when winning a regular-season cross country race was cause for celebration. In fact, it stood atop her list of objectives last season.
Those days have passed. Before her senior year began, Campbell turned her focus toward using the regular season to build momentum for the Missouri Class 4 state cross country meet.
Her final tune-up went as planned.
Campbell won the Missouri Class 4, Sectional 4 race Saturday at Jesse James Park in Kearney when she crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 41.6 seconds.
“I wasn’t really going for the win today — I just wanted to get a good feel for everything,” Campbell said. “Because next week is state, there’s no reason for me to kill myself. But I felt really strong, so I just decided to go for it.”
Campbell was one of 30 runners to book a spot in the state meet next week, which will take place at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City. She finished 15 seconds ahead of second-place Grace Klausen, a senior from Blue Springs South, but the Jaguars claimed the team title and qualified for the state meet for the first time since 1995. Kearney, Lee’s Summit North and Liberty also qualified their full teams.
Blue Springs South breezed to the sectional team title with three runners placing in the top four. Freshman Tori Findley finished third, and senior Ashton Henson was fourth.
“The biggest thing on my mind was to get the team through because we haven’t done that in so long,” said Klausen, who will run in the state meet for the fourth time next week. “I kept looking behind me to make sure (Findley and Henson) were still right behind me, which I knew they would be.”
Kearney sophomore Clayton Adams mapped out a plan for every mile of the Class 4, Sectional 4 boys meet Saturday. It all hinged on finding a pace to best Blue Springs senior Stephen Mugeche.
“He’s an excellent runner, and he’s very good at keeping even splits,” Adams said. “I wanted to let him take that first mile and then I wanted to take it from there.”
That’s precisely how it played out.
Adams won the sectional meet in 15 minutes, 42.3 seconds, finishing 7 seconds ahead of Mugeche. Platte County senior Nathan Straubel finished third, and Liberty junior Matt Alvey was fourth.
The real test, of course, comes next week at the state meet in Jefferson City. Mugeche finished second last fall and is a favorite to compete for the title again this season.
Rockhurst edged Liberty for the sectional team championship. Blue Springs and Park Hill South also qualified their full squads for the state meet.
“You kind of want to take it easy and get ready for state,” said Rockhurst senior William Thompson, who placed eighth. “But with the team trying to win, it’s always going to make a difference where you finish. Every place counts.”