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Indians break through in Class 1 cross country

Russellville junior Alex M. Thompson (715) runs in Saturday’s Class 1 boys championship at the Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.

Russellville junior Alex M. Thompson (715) runs in Saturday’s Class 1 boys championship at the Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City. Photo by Kris Wilson.

The Russellville Indians wanted to share the spotlight.

After the school’s girls team captured its third Class 1 cross country title in four years, the Indians followed with their first state title since 1985 and second in program history Saturday in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Cross Country Championships at the Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.

“There’s a lot of pressure with the girls winning (three of four),” Russellville coach Craig Miller said. “The boys felt it was time for them to step up.

“The girls didn’t really talk trash, but the boys have their ego. You saw what they did today. I’m proud of them.”

Russellville topped the field with 87 points, while Show-Me Conference rival Linn took second with 111 points. West Platte was third with 140 points and Lone Jack took fourth with 150.

“They did well to show the town, the school, what they’re made of,” Miller said. “Good competition, too. We had Linn come in second in our conference, and they were second today overall. That shows you how good this conference is. It gets them ready for state.”

That doesn’t even include Class 2 state champion Fatima, another Show-Me Conference member. So a tough regular-season slate paved the way to a state title.

“These boys have been so determined,” Miller said. “The goal all year was to be state champions. They started back in June just like the girls did. They never took a day off, they ran every day. I had to make them take a day off every now and then. Talented bunch of guys.”

Alex M. Thompson led the Indians with a fourth-place finish in 17:14.60. La Plata’s Seth Brown won the race in 16:51.09.

“My goal was to do better than last year, which I did,” Thompson said after finishing ninth in 2012. “Maybe a little better, but I’ll take fourth. I’m happy.”

Added Miller: “I figured he was going to be one of the top-five runners, he’s that talented. I knew he’d be the leader. Our boys go off of what Alex does. They saw Alex up there and they pushed through, all seven of them.”

Not a bad day for the Russellville junior.

“It feels good,” he said of the team title. “We represented our community and school real well. We brought it home. We had all the confidence in the world we could get this job taken care of.”

Jamie Porter was the second Russellville runner across the finish line, taking home all-state honors with a 23rd-place finish in 17:54.07.

Nick Haslag, one of two seniors for Russellville, placed 37th in 18:16.04, while freshman Anthony Bertucci was a spot behind in 18:17.67. Matthew Fringer rounded out the top five for Russellville with a 48th-place finish (18:38.38).

“We have four of the top five coming back next year,” Miller said. “They put their hearts into it. I’m so happy for them.”

Alex D. Thompson (104th, 19:43.37), the other senior, and Caleb Nichols (120th, 19:59.51) completed Russellville’s team.

“I knew we had a good chance. Just going through the season and going through the teams we raced, I knew on paper we were first,” Miller said. “But that’s paper, that doesn’t mean anything. We had to do it here.”

And that capped off a dream day for Russellville. Two teams, two state titles.

“I told them, ‘Boys, girls, we can be state champions today,’” Miller said. “And they did it. It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy. So happy for the parents, the school, the community, the runners.”

III

Also competing in the Class 1 race, Vienna’s Chandler Harker capped a brilliant career with a third-place finish (17:12.12).

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I wanted to be up there at the top and win, but I ran my hardest and I like how I came out.

“Last year I ran a better time, but this is my best finish. It’s perfect. ... I was in the top-10 all four years of high school, so it’s like a dream come true.”

Harker was fourth last season, 10th as a sophomore and seventh as a freshman.

Accompanying photo:

Russellville junior Alex M. Thompson runs

See also:

Cross Country: Class 1-4 state championship results

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