West Platte's Davies sets school XC record; Bluejays just miss podium

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — West Platte took another step forward in a slow progression but just missed a return to the podium in the Class 1 Missouri State Cross Country Championships.

Max Davies set a new school record and ended up third overall Saturday, Nov. 4 at Oak Hills Golf Center, leading the Bluejays to sixth in the final team standings. They were just 10 points back of fourth place KC Lutheran for the final trophy.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photos TOP: West Platte junior Max Davies, left, climbs a hill during the Class 1 Missouri State Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City, Mo. BOTTOM: West Platte sophomore Phillip Pattison, left, and senior Andrew Cicha, center, run in a pack during the race.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photos
TOP: West Platte junior Max Davies, left, climbs a hill during the Class 1 Missouri State Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City, Mo. BOTTOM: West Platte sophomore Phillip Pattison, left, and senior Andrew Cicha, center, run in a pack during the race.

Winner of a state record 18 straight district titles, West Platte remained stuck at 12 top-four finishes at state despite going from 11th in 2014, to 10th in 2015, to seventh in 2016 to sixth this year.

“We were kind of bummed out because we were only 10 points off of getting on the podium as a team,” Davies said. “We all met our goals, and we all set those goals pretty high and we got them so that’s alright for me even if we didn’t get on the podium.”

Davies earned all-state honors for a second straight season and jumped into the top 10.

After finishing 11th at state in a breakout sophomore season, Davies ran with the leaders for most of Saturday’s race. He held onto second until the very last minute, finishing in 16 minutes, 52.26 seconds — just .06 behind surging runner-up Chase Ratliff of Weaubleau.

Hermitage senior Easton Sabala won in 16:43.33.

Davies broke 17 minutes for the first time in his career and hit the exact time he set as a goal before the season. He broke the school record for the state course Spencer Hudson set while finishing third in 2012.

“How about Max breaking the school record?” West Platte coach Mike Lowe rhetorically asked. “He desperately wanted to break 17 minutes as a junior, and he finally did it and did it on a course where it really mattered.”

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo West Platte sophomore Phillip Pattison, left, and senior Andrew Cicha, center, run in a pack during the race.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
West Platte sophomore Phillip Pattison, left, and senior Andrew Cicha, center, run in a pack during the race.

West Platte put five runners under 19:40 for the first time this season, and three of the five scoring runners set personal bests.

Phillip Pattison, a sophomore, set a personal best of 17:53.45 to earn one of the final all-state spots. In his second state appearance, he broke 18 minutes for the first time.

A four-time state qualifier, senior Andrew Cicha ran his best time in two years (18:34.41) and placed 45th, while senior Justin Howard, a three-time state qualifier, ran his second best time to finish as the Bluejays’ No. 4 runner (94th).

“They did everything we asked them, and they did their best,” Lowe said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

With just two seniors in the top seven, West Platte gained more valuable experience.

Davies ran in his third state meet, while Pattison and junior Matik Heskin (103rd) were in their second. Drake Stelljes (147th) and Coy Taylor (155th) — both sophomores — made their debuts.

“(The seniors) know they ran good so you’ve got to be happy for them,” Lowe said. “Andy and Justin are going to be missed next year and we’re going to have to find a three and four runner, but hopefully Matik can keep improving and run next year like he did today.”