Park Hill didn’t end up with either of its state qualifiers back but for very different reasons.
In total, 11 of the 14 runners for the Trojans at last year’s Class 4 District 8 meet were underclassmen in a difficult season, leaving the opportunity for growth. Only four advanced to Sectional 4 competition with that number sliced in half again for the Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships.
Hunter Lund, now a senior, made a Missouri debut at state after transferring to Park Hill from Virginia prior to his junior season. He led a trio of sectional qualifiers for the Trojans and went on to place 37th at state.
However, Lund moved to Japan in the offseason, leaving a large hole at the top of the lineup.
Park Hill sophomore Parker Canfield (14th at District 8) and junior Christian Slone (30th at District 8) also reached sectionals but were well back of the state cut. In addition, seniors Kollin Williamson and Albert Lachowsky and sophomore sophomore Isaac Peltzer were in the top seven for the Trojans at districts.
The only two seniors were Evan Dantzscher and William Fink, but three others won’t return for various reasons.
That leaves Canfield, Lachowsky and a group of junior varsity runners to fight for position in the lineup. Park Hill coach John Milholland said Ethan Boyd, Abeneezer Abraham, Roman Ortiz and Michael Baker will compete for spots along with freshmen Luke Hines, Ryan Fette and Isaiah Phillips.
Jillian Roepe — the lone senior for the girls — went to state and placed 77th — the first to compete at state for the Trojans since 2011. The six other runners in the district lineup include seniors Meg Feeley, Madison King and Tessa Mussman and juniors Grace Fink, Caylin Rich and Carly Saunders.
Fink (40th) led the district finishers behind Roepe, the only girls runner to advance on to sectionals.