MARYVILLE, Mo. – Over the years, dozens of runners have contributed, but the current top seven for West Platte will always be the ones who set the record.
The Bluejays comfortably topped the field in the Class 1 District 8 meet Saturday, Oct. 29 at Donaldson West Side Park behind a trio of top-10 finishers. The 17th consecutive district title sets a state record and finally alleviates some of the pressure on a young group tasked with keeping an almost unfathomable streak alive.
West Platte’s run started in 2000 and includes state titles in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2012 and 12 top-four finishes in the Class 1 Missouri State Cross Country Championships.
“It’s a relief,” West Platte coach Mike Lowe said. “It was good to get it done; it was a good moment, and all the kids worked really hard.”
To add the 13th state trophy in program history and first since 2003, West Platte will likely lean on sophomore Max Davies to lead the way.
Davies went below 18 minutes again at districts, finishing in 17:54.87 to place he second. He has won a pair of races this season, including the KCI Conference Championships, to become the first Bluejays runner since Spencer Hudson to take an individual title.
Last season, Davies finished 89th in his state debut for West Platte, which placed 10th out of 16 in the final team standings.
Andy Cicha, a junior, was the top returning runner from state last year (39th), and he placed seventh at districts (19:20.24) with freshman Phillip Pattison not far behind in ninth (19:24.80). The top three for the Bluejays’ all earned all-district honors, and the final two just missed the cut.
Wyatt Kleman, a sophomore, set a new personal record at 20:28.50, while senior Connor McNair became a part of a fourth straight district champion team. West Platte ended up with a team score of 42 to beat St. Joseph Christian by 16 spots. The runnerup effort from the Lions included having the Nos. 1 and 3 runners.
Davies, Cicha, McNair and junior Justin Howard (23rd at districts) all have previous state experience, while Pattison, Kleman and sophomore Mattik Heskin (27th at districts) will make debuts for the Bluejays.
“They’ll go out and run their hearts out and see if they can’t get some all state medals next weekend,” Lowe said.
That also applies for two more from West Platte, which sends a pair of girls runners for a second straight year.
In a 46-runner field, sophomore Lea Moose and junior Rachel Heili both posted top-10 finishes to earn individual berths. They were the only two runners for the Bluejays, who did not have the requisite five runners needed to qualify for a team score.
“We didn’t have a full team this year, but we still came out and ran hard and did our best,” said Moose, who placed 23rd at state last year to earn all-state honors. “It’s really fun getting to return. Coming back, it’s really exciting.”
Moose finished sixth overall in 22:22.73, about 30 seconds behind the back of the top five. Heili wound up ninth in 23:08.87. She placed 35th at state as a sophomore.
Lowe couldn’t have been happier with the results, qualifying all nine of the runners he brought to districts for the state meet, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 5 in Jefferson City, Mo.
“We did fine,” Lowe said. “We brought two girls and we got two girls through to state. They’re both great kids and they both deserve the honor of going up there.”