LIBERTY, Mo. — Platte County’s runners ended up in the middle of the pack during the season-opener, leaving optimism and room for improvement.
In both the boys and girls races, the Pirates wound up fifth in the team standings of the Liberty Invitational held on a brisk morning Saturday, Sept. 2 at Stocksdale Park in Liberty, Mo. There were two completely different stories to the finishes.
On the girls side, 12 of the 17 runners ran their first meet for Platte County.
Erin Straubel, a senior and returning Class 4 Sectional 4 qualifier, led the Pirates with a 10th-place finish (14 minutes, 31.10 seconds) on the 2.1-mile course. Maddie Klippenstein led a group of four freshmen in the lineup and placed 14th in 14:38.20.
Platte County entered the season with just three returners from last year’s postseason group, including seniors Lauren Johnson (24th) and Lindsay Johnson (26th). The Pirates’ new look group totaled 111 points to end up fifth out of seven teams.
“We were pleased with how well they did,” Platte County coach Chris Stubbs said. “Very optimistic and looking forward to seeing how much we progress as a team this year.”
Platte County’s boys totaled 112 points and wound up fifth with a pack-like finish.
Last year’s postseason team included just one senior, and the Pirates entered the season believing the current group could run the best times in program history. Early results were mixed with Jackson Letcher, a junior and two-time Missouri State Cross Country Championships qualifier, in 17th and junior Keegan Cordova in 18th with the same posted time.
Cordova joined Letcher in last year’s Class 4 Sectional 4 meet.
Platte County’s final three finishers for the team score were sophomore Evan McPhatter (22nd), senior Nick Bjustrom (26th) and senior Evan Edwards (29th). The Pirates’ seven runners were separated by less than 40 seconds total.
“We seemed a little cautious overall but Thursday we hope to run a bit more aggressive,” Stubbs said. “Our pack time was excellent we just need to make sure we match the level of our competition.”
Platte County returns to action Thursday, Sept. 7 in the Oak Grove Classic.
Park Hill South finished second despite running without two returning Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships qualifiers.
Emma Roth, a senior, recorded her first career victory in the race Saturday, Sept. 2 in Lee’s Summit, Mo. to lead the Panthers. Keely Danielsen and Marti Heit did not run, but a quartet of underclassmen helped round out the solid team effort.
Setting the pace, Roth finished in 20:05.7 to win by nearly 20 seconds coming off of her breakout track and field season to end her junior year.
Olivia Roth came in third for Park Hill South at 20:48.2 in a 31-runner field, while freshmen Avelina Navarro (ninth) and Skyelar Nelson (10th) and sophomore Paige Snider (11th) rounded out the team score.
Park Hill came in third with 65 points, 31 back of Park Hill South. Grace Fink (eighth, 22:00.0) and Brooklyn Niebaum (12th) led the Trojans, who placed their top five all in the top 16.
Park Hill South’s boys also claimed second in a larger field. The Panthers totaled 49 points — 10 back of Lee’s Summit West for first.
Trey Rouse (second), Ewan Frick (third) and Eli Guzman (13th) — all seniors — led Park Hill South’s finish. Rouse came in at 17:02.6, 18½ seconds out of first.
Park Hill ended up sixth out of eight teams with sophomore Isaiah Phillips 11th at 17:29.8.
St. Mary’s Invitational
West Platte just missed the team title in another strong early season showing Saturday, Sept. 2 in Independence, Mo.
Max Davies, a junior, won his second race and first at the full 5k distance, finishing in 18:04 to beat North Kansas City’s Zach Mertes by 9 seconds. Phillip Pattison, a sophomore, broke 19 minutes to finish in 18:53 for fourth place, giving the Bluejays two in the top 10.
West Platte ended up with a team score of 109, good enough for third and just 10 back of Cameron for first place.
North Platte came in sixth with a 182 behind junior Tyler Meadows’ 10th-place finish (19:16.95). West Platte senior Andrew Cicha was a tick behind Meadows in 13th place at 19:25.
Zach Lee (17th) and Caleb Crumely (27th) were the No. 2 and No. 3 runners for North Platte.
West Platte’s girls brought five runners and posted a team score, finishing sixth out of nine teams. Lexi Elmore, a sophomore who transferred from Platte County, again led the Bluejays with a seventh-place finish (21:32). Lindsay Goodwin (22nd) and Lea Moose (35th) ran for the first time this season while also juggling softball duties.
North Platte only brought three runners with seniors McKenna Fulton (26th) and Bailee Romaker (33rd) the top finishers.
Lee led North Platte with a 15th-place finish Tuesday, Aug. 29 in Maryville, Mo. The Panthers were seventh out of 12 teams in the final team standings.
Lee finished in 19:43.
North Platte’s girls didn’t qualify for the team standings with only three runners. Fulton, a three-time Missouri State Cross Country Championships qualifier, led the trio in 26th place.