The pressure will likely build as the season progresses. When you have the potential to set a Missouri state record, there’s little choice but to face the challenge.
West Platte’s boys enter the season having won 16 consecutive Class 1 District titles with a chance to set a record with No. 17. The Bluejays will need senior Connor McNair, junior Andy Cicha and sophomore Max Davies to lead the way.
All three have prior experience at the Missouri State Cross Country Championships with Cicha and McNair on each of the past two state teams and Davies in the top four last year. Cicha came in 39th at state last season, best among returners.
“It’s going to get really, really important that we don’t lose that streak,” said Davies, a sophomore who showed steady improvement last year that carried on to his distance running in spring track and field. “Seventeen years is a long time, and that wouldn’t be easy to make up. Who wants to be on the team that failed?”
West Platte replaces departed No. 1 Daniel Cicha and Connor Penrod, the No. 5 in 2015. Mike Lowe, entering his seventh season as coach of the Bluejays, expects Justin Howard to take on a bigger role, while Wyatt Klemen and freshman Phillip Pattison will be expected to add depth.
On the girls side, West Platte boasts a pair of returning state qualifiers but will again struggle to fill out a fill team. Some members of the squad will split time between sports, a staple of the program in recent years.
Lea Moose, a sophomore, placed 23rd at state in Class 1 last year, while Rachel Heili followed behind in 34th. Lowe hopes both can challenge for all-state spots this year.