Frazier from the Field: XC runs at State for 9 consecutive years

Greg Frazier
Sports Columnist

Cross country head coach Jon Petter and assistant head Patrick Bommarito lead the huddle at the MSHSAA State Cross Country Championship on Nov. 4, to prepare Varsity for their final race of the season. Photo by Greg Frazier

Cross country made it to State nine years in a row despite turmoil, hardship and performance.

“The goal was to get to State and run well there; we only achieved one and a half of that,” head coach Jon Petter said.

The focus of the season was to be top 10 at State; however with only three notable runners leading Varsity, sophomore Charlie Teeter, senior Ben Gossow and junior Sam Getz, spots needed to be filled to meet their goal.

Petter said, “We needed to work on our back-half racing for races, with proper tapering.”

The important Sectional race on Oct. 28, was at Parkway Central. The Statesmen had a chance to be champions, but they’d have to beat SLUH in the process. Junior Parker Bont said, “It was going to be a tight race. Every spot would count. Nothing was going to be given to us.”

SLUH came out on top, but it didn’t prohibit Webster’s ninth consecutive State appearance in Jefferson City. Petter had to round out Varsity if he wanted to be top 10 at State. Bont became a prominent runner towards the end of the season. His State performance would compete with Getz’s spot on Varsity in the future. Bont said, “As our team gets closer, our times get faster.”

Senior Ian Thompson leads the pack with junior Sterling Smith and sophomore Evan Schneider at the Forest Park Invitational on Sept. 9. Photo by Greg Frazier

Sophomore Ray Wetzel-Meehan was given the Varsity spot from senior four-year runner Ian Thompson for State. He decided to do the selfless act of giving Thompson his spot back and not running at State.
Cross country season begins as soon as track season ends, running all throughout the end of humid spring, the entirety of the hot summer and the beginning of the brisk fall. The first “unofficial” race of the season is an infamous “Alumni” race that pits junior-freshman against senior-sophomore against alumni. JV men competed at Parkway Central on Aug. 22, for the Cross Country Classic 3K, which marked the “official” race of the season. Junior runner Jackson Bontty led the Statesmen by coming in first with a time of 11:50.56.

Petter’s intent is to form a community of runners that enjoy running and after high school continue their running careers; recreationally or at a college level. Petter said, “We have good young boys with good grades becoming great people, not just good athletes.”

A good Varsity is made from a good JV; the majority of the team is under 20 minutes in the 5K. Breaking 20 is a feat that many runners stride for. Sophomore Evan Welch was battling with breaking 20 for almost the entire season until, he raced at Koch Park on Sept. 22 and broke 20 and 19.
“That was one of the best moments of the season, seeing Evan go sub 20 and 19,” Petter said.

As the XC season comes to an end, track and field starts up. Petter said, “We had a great season. We’re preparing and getting ready for next year. We know what to improve and work on.”

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