LIBERTY, Mo. — Chais Wright didn’t have much confidence in herself before stepping to the starting line of the Liberty Invitational on Saturday Sept. 5. But after her run at Stockdale Park, the Park Hill sophomore could no longer doubt herself. Wright claimed the first win of her career, traversing the 2.1-mile course in 14 minutes 35.10 seconds. Last season, she finished 20th in Class 4 District 8 competition to finish her season, but Park Hill coach Krysta Wyss gave her encouragement prior to this year’s opener.
“Words can’t even explain it,” Wright said. “I was just looking to try to finish first (at the end). I wasn’t having a lot of confidence in myself. She kept telling me she wanted me to finish top 5. I just said I couldn’t do it, but all the pushing throughout the race really helped me through it.”
Wright came in more than 5 full seconds in front of Liberty North freshman Chloe Johnson to top the 54-runner field. She did not complete last year’s Class 4 Sectional 4 race after qualifying, leaving her as a bit of an unknown for the upcoming season.
Wyss complimented Wright’s hard work in the offseason and showed the needed confidence in her budding sophomore.
“I knew she could do it,” Park Hill girls coach Krysta Wyss said. “Before the race we were talking and she asked me, ‘What do you want me to do coach?’ ‘I said, ‘I think you can win this.’ She wasn’t so sure about that but I have so much confidence in that girl. She’s worked so hard and she is a good example to all of the other girls of what hard work does. I think she showed that today. I think this is an eye opener for her that she did that and I think she is going to continue to build.”
Overall, Park Hill finished fourth out of seven qualifying teams with 81 team points — 29 behind champion Liberty. The Trojans grabbed three medals with senior Jillian Roepe (12th, 15:09.70) and sophomore Grace Fink (19th, 15:31.90) also recording top 20 finishes.
Platte County sophomore Erin Straubel came in 25th at 15:52.90, the lone Pirates runner to compete in the varsity field. Rebekah Geddes — a Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships medalist as a freshman — did not run with coach Chris Stubbs planning to limit his star’s number of races this season.
On the boys side, Platte County finished fourth in the team standings with a 102 total. The Pirates were 20 points back of second-place Liberty, but Rock Bridge’s 29 easily claimed the title.
Jackson Letcher, a freshman, scored Platte County’s top finish (10th, 12:35.00) — one of only two runners in the top 10 not from Liberty or Rock Bridge. Pirates junior Hunter Long also claimed a medal, finishing in 12:59.10 for 16th place.
“Our youth ran really well,” Stubbs said. “We have no seniors on varsity. We were led by a freshman; top 10 at this meet is excellent. Just getting the first meet underneath us is good. Some kids this is their first cross country race ever. We had three kids on varsity who had never ran high school cross country before. They did a phenomenal job.”
Park Hill finished sixth with 143 points — just three behind Oak Park for the final top-five spot. The Trojans claimed three medals, and Hunter Lund, a junior transfer from Virginia, led the way with a 13th-place finish (12:51.80). Evan Dantzscher, a senior, came in 17th with sophomore Christian Slone just behind in 18th.
“First three came in pretty quickly,” Park Hill boys coach John Millholland said. “Then after that we tailed off. We went from 18th to 46th. That’s too big of a gap. We need more kids up front. We’ll be making some changes for next week’s meet, but overall, I’m really happy.”
St. Mary’s Invitational
North Platte senior Dylan Stockman finished in 11th place, but the top-heavy Panthers came up a few points back of West Platte in the final team standings Saturday, Aug. 5 in Liberty, Mo.
Stockman came in at 19:09, while freshman teammate Tyler Meadows rounded out the top 20 with a 19:48 finish. However, North Platte totaled 132 points, while West Platte managed to grab fourth place with 120.
Andrew Cicha, a sophomore, led the Bluejays in 22nd (19:53, second best career time), while freshman Max Davies followed in 19:55, good for 24th. Daniel Cicha, a senior, came in 32nd while battling knee pain.
On the girls side, West Platte freshman Lea Moose debuted by running 24:11 and finishing in 15th. She also plays softball for the Bluejays.
North Platte placed sixth out of eight teams in the final standings with senior Rayanne Daniel finishing 20th in 24:30.
Greg Wilson Classic
Keely Danielsen led a group of three medalists for Park Hill South, helping the Panthers to a runner-up finish Saturday, Aug. 5 at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, Kan.
The top five runners for Park Hill South were all underclassmen, including Danielsen — a sophomore. She came in at 20:02.1 to place seventh. Lexi Maddox (10th, 20:15.1) and Jasmine Crawford (14th, 20:32.9) — both juniors — rounded out the Panthers to grab medals, given to the top 20 in both races. Park Hill South finished with a team total of 95, well back of host and champion St. Thomas Aquinas (32).
On the boys side, Park Hill South placed eighth out of 12 teams, three back of seventh place. Ewan Frick grabbed the top finish for the Panthers, missing a medal by one spot with his 21st-place showing.
Stockman’s 14th-place finish highlighted North Platte’s efforts in a season-opening race Tuesday, Sept. 1 in Maryville, Mo. A senior and returning Class 1 Missouri State Cross Country Championships qualifier, he finished in 19:27.6 to help the Panthers to a seventh-place showing.
North Platte finished with a team score of 176, well back of sixth-place Cameron in the 15-team field.
On the girls side, North Platte totaled a score of 94 and ended up fifth out of five qualifying teams. McKenna Fulton, a sophomore, led the Panthers with a 13th-place finish (23:59.6), while senior Daniel (26th) and junior Shelby Fisher (31st) rounded out their top three runners.