On Friday, November 3, the State Bound El Dorado Springs Cross Country Athletes were serenaded and led through the school hallways by the high school band as the high school and middle school gave them a tremendous sendoff as they geared up to head to the MSHSAA Class 3 State Cross Country Championships. As they left the building, the band treated them with the El Dorado Springs fight song, then athletes took pictures, said good bye to family and we loaded up the bus to head to Columbia for the Championships. We had one last escort, and that was by the El Dorado Springs and Olympia Fire Departments as they escorted us out of town, greeted by the Elementary students down the bus ramp and by parents and fans on our way out of town. This incredible send off gave the athletes a great sense of pride, seeing how much support they had.
We stopped and had lunch in Camdenton, before heading on to Columbia, where we would get out and preview the State Championship course. The State meet is held at the Gans Creek Recreation Area in Columbia. The course was in great shape, and after jogging the course and get our last few buildups in for the season, we headed to get some carbs in for supper and then head to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep and dream big for what was about to happen on Saturday.
On Saturday, the team woke up and ate breakfast at 6:00 am and we then headed to the course at 7:30 to prepare for the big day ahead. The Class 3 Boys race was going to begin the day, starting at 9:00 am. After warmups were complete the team had one final run out to talk as a team as the excitement of the start was just around the corner. One final team break and the team got up to the line. What was at stake? Potential, individual All State honors for anyone placing in the top 30 of the race, as well as a potential top 4 State Team trophy, which would be the first in school history for the boys cross country teams. They have been 5th several times, however, have never been able to quite break through, which in some ways is why we adopted the saying “Breaking Through at State” this year.
Anticipation built as the athletes waited at the start line for the sound of the gun to go off. Then the sound that they had been waiting for, the gun, and off they went. The Bulldogs were off and running. Wyatt Klaiber led the way for the pack. In the end Freshman, Wyatt Klaiber found himself finishing in 4th with a personal best time of 15:40. Following shortly behind was Junior Braxton Watts who finished 9th with a personal best time of 16:10. Personal Records were a theme as the next 5 runners also set personal best times with Shane Fletcher running 16:53, Sylas Fletcher running 17:16, Logan Fisk running 17:20, Will Seitz running 17:36 and Senior Kolton Nichols running 18:23, all personal best times. When you ask the team to lay it all on the line, then everyone runs a personal best time, I am not sure of what more you can ask of your team. They went out there and took care of business. When it was all said and done the El Dorado Springs Boys team found themselves bringing home their first ever cross country State Plaque, taking 2nd in the Class 3 Team State Championships, just 2 points out of first. This was an incredible start to the day for the Bulldogs and an Incredibly Awesome ending to the Boys Cross Country Season. As a coach, you do everything you can to prepare the athletes individually and as a team, but it is so rewarding to see it all come together and yet nerve-racking during the race, knowing that there is nothing you can do, but cheer and wait for the final results. The Boys deserve this and as a Coach, I couldn’t be more Proud of them. Job Well Done!
Next up on the schedule, the Gilrs Class 3 race. We didn’t have a team in this race but we had Seniors Hanna Ridgway, Christian Steuck and Junior Audrey Goatley in the race as individual qualifiers. As a coach, I had to recompose myself and get ready to now Coach the girls. They were ready to go. We did one last run out and we talked about the how the conditions were perfect for great times, so go out and strive to reach their goals and see what can happen. And that, they did. Junior Audrey Goatley led the way for the Lady Dogs, coming through the first Kilometer around 30th and moving forward throughout the race. Hanna and Christian also controlled the first kilometer and moved forward throughout the race as well. In the end, Audrey found herself in 22nd with a season best time of 19:42 giving her All-State honors. And even though Hanna and Christian didn’t make the top 30, they ran personal record times, with Hanna running 21:05 and Christian running 21:11. These 3 have had a great year and have been good leaders for the team.
In the end, the Bulldogs ended up with 9 Personal Best times, 1 Season Best times, 3 All-State Athletes (Wyatt Klaiber, Braxton Watts and Audrey Goatley), and a 2nd Place State Team Plaque. An incredible way to wrap up an already incredible season. Our State Bound Shirts had a Bulldog breaking through a Brick Wall with the saying “Breaking Through at State”, and we talked about that throughout the week, that State is like a Brick Wall and if we wanted to Break Through and reach some of the goals we had set from the very get go, we couldn’t just tap the wall, we would have to hit the wall at full steam and Break through, and they sure did that on Saturday with an exclamation point. I couldn’t be prouder of them. And as always, It’s a great time to be a Bulldog!! GO BULLDOGS!!