More than 500 turn out for cross country event

Jefferson City High School’s Hampton Waggoner chases his shadow as he nears the finish line Friday at Oak Hills Golf Course. High school runners from across the state participated in the first of what the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes to be an annual event.

Jefferson City High School’s Hampton Waggoner chases his shadow as he nears the finish line Friday at Oak Hills Golf Course. High school runners from across the state participated in the first of what the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes to be an annual event. Photo by Julie Smith.

The first Capital City Cross Country Challenge attracted athletes from all over the state, offering a preview of the course that will be set up next month at the state championships.

Chris Wilson, sports sales manager with the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said more than 500 athletes and 55 teams participated in Friday’s event at Oak Hills Golf Center.

The event, which was put on with TRXC Timing, promised athletes a chance to compete on the same course that will be set up for the Missouri High School State Cross Country Championships next month.

“With the opportunity to run the championship course before the actual championship, we all think is going to be a big draw as this thing continues to grow,” Wilson said. “We’re very pleased with how the initial year has gone, and we look forward to the growth potential of this event.”

The Capital City Cross Country Challenge is sanctioned by the Missouri State High School Activities Association, or MSHSAA. Davine Davis, assistant executive director with MSHSAA, said the association simply checks to make sure all Missouri schools participating in the event are association members and that bylaws are being upheld.

If the event invites schools from other states, Davis said MSHSAA checks with those states about each school invited before sanctioning an event.

Wilson said teams from Jefferson City High School, Fatima and Russellville helped represent the local area, with other teams coming from all over the state, including Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield.

“We’ve got a strong local contingent,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the CVB, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, as well as TRXC Timing are working on details for 2014 and 2015 events, where he hopes to add teams and athletes from other states and the collegiate level.

“By year four, we anticipate a ... signature event in Jefferson City,” Wilson said.

Wilson said they plan to move the event to a Saturday in the future, which could generate more hotel room stays in the area as well as increased participation in the event.

Accompanying photo: Jefferson City High School’s Hampton Waggoner nears finish line

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