A pair of Calvary Lutheran runners will be competing in the state cross country meet today, and it's no surprise which two.
Coach Kerri Morris assumed at the beginning of the year John Meyer and Cal Kolzow would be her top two runners, and that proved to be the case.
"The surprise is that as a team we were actually third in districts and only by five points," Morris said. "It's kind of promising for next year, but yeah, those two I kind of anticipated. John's been our No. 1 runner all season, and Cal's been our No. 2 runner."
The team made a strong showing in its first year at districts. Meyer finished second in Class 1 District 2 with a time of 18:25, and Kolzow finished 12th in 19:16. Calvary Lutheran finished with 86 points, five points behind Vienna, the second of two state qualifiers.
Meyer, a senior, was the Lions' lone varsity runner last season, when Calvary Lutheran did not field a team at districts. His state appearance is a long time coming.
Kolzow, a sophomore, is in his first year of cross country competition and Morris said he set a personal best by about 45 seconds with his time at districts.
"John has just waited and worked so hard all these years kind of waiting, and it's just great to see all that effort paid off, and Cal is a super-hard worker," Morris said. "I'm excited for them to be in it together, have a teammate up there and not just be in the box by themselves at the state meet."
Morris said having a full team has benefited Meyer and Kolzow. Though their season is over, the other Calvary Lutheran runners are still practicing with the two state qualifiers.
Calvary Luthern doesn't compete against many schools of the same size, so Morris was happy to see the Lions run well at districts.
"Every coach hopes that you get them prepared and they hit their peak at the right time, and they are," she said. "I think they're finally getting some confidence up, too. The thing about districts is for us, it's really the first and only time where we're on a level playing field. I tell them, "This is when it pays off to run against the Jeff City's and the Helias' and the big schools.'"
Though Morris said the biggest challenge was getting two runners to state, she is excited to see what they can accomplish there.
"John, being third in our district, that puts him up in contention to maybe make all-state," Morris said. "And I think he's got that drive. Cal, I mean, gosh, anything is possible. He pushed so hard in that district, I think he was honestly just thrilled that he's going to go to the state meet. I think anything's possible for them."