West Platte will have the returners to continue one increasingly amazing streak, and an influx of runners should help the Bluejays field a more complete girls team.
With four of the top five back from last year, West Platte’s boys will have expectations of extending a now state record streak of 17 straight district titles, set last fall. The 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.
West Platte came in seventh at state a year ago and now can legitimately look to improve on that showing and chase the 13th state trophy in program history.
“I think we’ll continue the tradition,” West Platte coach Mike Lowe said. “I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t come close. We should repeat as district champs. We should do it.”
As a sophomore, Max Davies developed into West Platte’s top runner, finishing as Class 1 District 8 runnerup and going on to earn all-state honors. He’s back along with senior Andrew Cicha, a state qualifier with the team each of his first three years, and sophomore Philip Pattison, who placed 40th at state in his debut last year.
Davies’ 11th-place finish at state came with the best time for a West Platte runner in Jefferson City since Spencer Hudson in 2012. The Bluejays’ seventh-place team finish was their best at state since 2013, and they also won the KCI Conference title with Davies taking home the individual championship.
Connor McNair was the lone senior in the top seven for West Platte last year, and senior Justin Howard and juniors Wyatt Kleman and Matik Heskin round out the returners.
“Our top three runners should be pretty solid,” Lowe said. “Our 4, 5 are going to have to discover who they are and step to the plate.”
The girls team will again be a work in progress with some potential runners competing in other fall sports. However, sophomore Lexi Elmore, a transfer from Platte County, should be an every meet runner with talent after finishing 41st last year in Class 4 District 8 and competing with the Pirates’ team in the Sectional 4 meet.
“She’s going to have to learn how to learn on the fly, how to push herself,” Lowe said. “She’s not going to have those seniors and juniors that she did at Platte County that pushed her last year.”
However, Lea Moose and Rachel Heili — West Platte’s two state qualifiers last season — will have other commitments. Moose, a junior, is expected back after an all-state showing in 2016 (15th place) in her second straight trip, while Heili, a senior and three-time state qualifier, is more of an uncertainty.
Moose and Heili will both play softball first. Lowe also expects freshmen Sophia Rush and Katy Tharp to contribute while gaining experience.