Platte County’s senior standout accomplished both feats on the way to breaking his own school record Nov. 8 at Oak Hills Golf Center. He claimed fifth place in the Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships in a time of 15 minutes, 50.06 seconds — the first sub-16 performance in program history.
“My goal at the beginning of the season was to be in the 15s by state,” Straubel said. “I finally got it. It’s my first 15, and it feels really good.”
Straubel finishes his career as a four-time state qualifier and two-time medalist, finishing in 21st last year when the Pirates were still in Class 3. He set the program record for the first time earlier in the year, finishing second (16:08) in the Class 3/4 Capital City Cross Country Challenge on Oct. 4.
“That’s somewhere we’ve never gone before,” Platte County coach Chris Stubbs said. “Sub-16 is something I would have never thought was possible on the state course. All the miles, all the hard work he’s put in, he deserves it.”
Straubel finished 18 seconds behind winner Stephen Mugeche of Blue Springs, who claimed the top spot in 15:32.23. Kearney’s Clayton Adams wound up second (15:43.24), one week after he topped Mugeche in the Class 4 Sectional 4 meet on Adams’ home course. A pair of runners from team champion Lafayette (Wildwood) followed — Austin Hindman (third, 15:44.52) and Dylan Quisenberry (fourth 15:48.12).
Park Hill South’s Tucker Melles also claimed a state medal, finishing in 23rd place in 16:23.54. The Panthers qualified as a team for the first time since rising to the state’s largest classification but wound up 16th out of 16 teams after No. 2 runner Darrien Case was tripped by another runner and blacked out after hitting the ground, forcing him to withdraw from the race at about the 2-mile mark.
“Missing our No. 2 guy destroyed our team points,” said Park Hill South boys coach Brad Banning, who made his final trip to state after announcing his retirement prior to the season. “Everybody else had a bad race. They ran pretty close to what they should have. Things like that happen. It’s hard to score as well as we did at sectionals when our No. 2 couldn’t finish the race.”
Case led Park Hill South’s state qualifying effort with a seventh-place showing at sectionals. Melles — No. 1 all year for the Panthers — battled through illness to finish 24th at sectionals, helping claim the final qualifying spot by six points in front of fifth-place Staley.
Tristan McCoy (101st, 17:20.69), Eli Guzman (131st, 17:37.93), Alex Lee (139th 17:45.11) and Ewan Frick (141st, 17:47.57) rounded out the scoring for Park Hill South.
Park Hill senior Kyle Pudenz finished 50th as the Trojans top finisher.
On the girls side, Platte county freshman Rebekah Geddes finished in 16th place to earn a medal, and she also set a school record at 19:14.55. The race endured four separate starts after runners fell in the opening 100 meters on the first three tries.
Geddes dealt with the adversity and turned in a memorable showing to complete an accomplished first season.
“It was kind of crazy,” Geddes said. “You didn’t know if it was going to be for real or if we were going to start again. After it got started, it got better.”
Park Hill South freshman Emma Roth also claimed all-state honors with a 22nd-place finish (19:24.64). Panthers sophomore Lexi Maddox (30th 19:32.54) and freshman Marti Heit (50th 19:58.28) also competed for Park Hill South.