Letcher, Geddes earn state berths for Platte County; Park Hill South girls take team title

CODY THORN/Special to The Citizen Platte County freshman Jackson Letcher runs the Class 4 Sectional 4 course Saturday, Oct. 31 at Jesse James Park in Kearney, Mo. Jackson Letcher made his own way all season.

In his first season, the Platte County freshman just kept improving and ended up as the first freshman to qualify for the Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships in program history. The Pirates are competing at that level for a second straight season.

Letcher finished in 17:14.7 on Saturday, Oct. 31 at Jesse James Park in Kearney, Mo. That was good enough for 16th in Class 4 Sectional 4 and well above the individual state cut, which goes to the top 30. Letcher was just one of seven freshmen in Class 4 to place in the top 30 over the weekend.

CODY THORN/Special to the Citizen Park Hill South junior Lexi Maddox (229) runs the Class 4 Sectional 4 course Saturday, Oct. 31 at Jesse James Park in Kearney, Mo. with teammate Marti Heit right behind. Maddox placed fifth to earn a third straight berth to the Missouri State Cross Country Championships, but this time, the whole Panthers team will advance thanks to winning the team title. Park Hill South finished with a team total of 54 points to beat Blue Springs South by 25.

Park Hill’s Hunter Lund, a junior transfer from Virginia, also earned his first Class 4 state berth in Missouri. He placed seventh in 16:56.2 to earn the Trojans’ lone state spot.

Coming off the first team state berth in program history, Park Hill South qualified five individuals from District 8 the previous weekend, allowing the Panthers to compete as a team at Sectional 4. They ended up seventh out of nine teams with a team total of 140, just 22 back of fourth-place Liberty for the final automatic qualifying spot.

However, Ewan Frick (12th, 17:07.0) and Eli Guzman (20th, 17:17.6) — a pair of sophomores — earned individual berths and will compete at state for a second straight season.

With the opposite outcome, Park Hill South’s girls finally made it to state, one year after injuries led to a disappointing showing at sectionals. The Panthers — District 8 champions — placed all of their top five in the top 25 to post a team total of 54 and beat District 7 champion Blue Springs South by 18 points, despite the Jaguars having the race winner (Victoria Findley, 18:51.7) and the top two finishers from the eight teams competing for automatic berths.

Lexi Maddox, a junior, took seventh for Park Hill South (20:02.7) and will go to state for the third straight year. Marti Heit (ninth, 20:05.4) and Emma Roth (15th, 20:24.8) make the trip back after qualifying as individuals a year ago.

Jasmine Crawford, a junior, placed 23rd and goes back to state after qualifying as a freshman but being unable to qualify as a sophomore due to a foot injury. Mallory Michel, another junior, rounded out the top five for Park Hill South, coming in one spot behind Crawford.

Platte County sophomore Rebekah Geddes followed up her District 8 championship with a runner-up showing. She came in at 19:45.5 to beat Winnetonka’s Emma Evans to the line by 4 seconds. Findley won the race in 18:51.7.

Geddes placed 16th at state as a freshman.

Park Hill’s Jillian Roepe came in 17th at 20:27.2, good enough to earn the senior her first state trip. Erin Straubel, Platte County’s only other sectional qualifier, came in 54th to complete her sophomore season.