JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Fittingly, Park Hill South seniors Lexi Maddox and Jasmine Crawford finished their final race together.
The Panthers’ top two seniors were 20th and 21st, respectively, in the Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships race Saturday, Nov. 5 at Oak Hills Golf Center. Crawford earned her second all-state honor while Maddox claimed her first to complete two differing paths during accomplished careers, helping the program develop into one of the state’s top teams the past two seasons.
Park Hill South’s entire team left with hardware, finishing fourth place in the team standings to take the final trophy in an extremely crowded finish. The Panthers totaled 143 points to finish three in front of fifth-place Blue Springs South for the last podium spot but just one point back of third place.
The top five teams were separated by just 12 points with champion Jackson at 134 and Blue Springs South in fifth at 146.
A four-time state qualifier, Maddox posted her best state finish to lead the way, bettering her 30th place showing as a sophomore in 2014. Crawford’s first all-state season came back in 2013 as a freshman, and she missed the postseason as a sophomore due to an injury.
Maddox (44th) and Crawford (88th) struggled at state last year when Park Hill South advanced as a team for the first time in program history. The Panthers were ninth out of 16 teams with no all-state runners for the first time since having no qualifiers in 2012.
Coming off the second straight sectional team title in program history, Park Hill South again put a complete performance together.
Maddox (19:15.22) and Crawford (19:16.35) were separated by about a second and posted the all-state times needed to keep the Panthers in the trophy hunt. Emma Roth, an all-state runner as a freshman, rebounded from her disappointing state showing a year ago to finish in 47th to complete her junior season.
Park Hill South freshman Olivia Roth and junior Marti Heit finished back-to-back in 68th and 69th to round out the team score. Showing the team’s depth, Heit was the No. 5 finisher Saturday after being the top runner for the Panthers in last year’s state meet and last week at sectionals.
Of the top seven runners, Park Hill South loses three with Mallory Michel (122nd) also running her last race. Keely Danielsen (114th) is a junior and will also return next year.
After just missing a second team berth in three years, Park Hill South’s boys had three runners finish near the middle third of a 172-runner field. Eli Guzman, a junior, led the way in 54th at 16:35.97 in his third straight trip to state.
Guzman posted his best time and finish in three tries, bettering last year’s 89th-place
David Rouse, another junior, and senior first-time qualifier Brendan Briody were 95th and 99th respectively. Rouse was also made his state debut for the Panthers, who were fifth in the team standings last week at Sectional 4.