Only two cross country teams came out of the Class 2 District 4 race, but Blair Oaks coach Marc Keys said before the season began the district's top four teams could compete at state.
That showed Saturday, as runners from three different District 4 schools finished in the top 10 in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Cross Country Championships at the Oak Hills Golf Center.
Russellville's Alex Thompson paced the group with a sixth-place finish in 16:52.
"I just felt like I really had a smart race and knew exactly when to push, where to push and how to push," he said.
Fatima's Hunter Hennier came in ninth in 16:59, and Blair Oaks' Jason Otto's 17:02 was good for 10th. Fellow Falcon Nick Yaeger finished 13th in 17:12, and Adam Burkett of California, also a District 4 school, finished in 19th with a time of 17:25.
"There's good competition in our district, and we all help each other out and push each other," Hennier said.
Fatima and Linn, the two teams to escape the tough district, finished fourth and seventh, respectively.
"It definitely woke a lot of teams up," Thompson said of District 4. "The top four teams easily could've had a chance at making the stage at state, but this year just wasn't our year to do it, and stuff like that happens. Hats off to Fatima. They had a great race."
Yaeger was happy to hang tight with teammate Otto, who finished 17th in last year's state competition.
"I was just trying to stay with Jason, because he usually kicks my butt," said Yaeger, whose Saturday time was a personal best, "but today I was close to him, and I was like, "Wow, I feel good.'"
But despite the all-state finishes, not everyone was ecstatic about their results.
"I was looking for single digits," Otto said. "But I don't know. I guess it's all right."
Otto said he and Hennier pushed each other in competitions all year, Saturday included. Hennier's ninth-place finish was his second straight.
"I wish I could've improved a little bit more, but there's always next year, I guess," he said.
Hennier, a junior, also hopes to see a better team finish for Fatima next year. The Comets won the state championship last year but were 60 points short of Whitfield on Saturday.
"Our girls obviously ran amazing," Hennier said, referring to the Lady Comets' state title, "but I think our guys were a little disappointed in themselves."
Still, the Comets finished in the top four for the fourth straight year.
"That's pretty good," Fatima coach Marcus Bridges said. "I feel like the boys, they gave a pretty good effort today. I'm pretty pleased with their overall performance."
Though his team failed to qualify for state, Thompson was happy to bring Russellville a top-10 finish.
"Yeah, I did it for the team," he said. "It's all about the team. I owe this one to them."
Linn's top runner, Chase Jones, finished just short of all-state honors, given to the top 25 finishers, with a 28th-place time of 17:46.
Also for the Wildcats, Noah Voss finished 45th, Joey Nilges finished 57th and Tanner Rush finished 76th.
Matthew Fringer of Russellville finished 37th, while Fatima was also represented by Alex Krieg (32nd), Cody Huhn (36th), Austin Muenks (51st) and Logan Borland (64th).
Class 2 Boys Cross Country
- 1. Whitfield, 72; 2. Springfield Catholic, 77; 3. Herculaneum, 120; 4. Fatima, 132; 5. Lamar, 136; 6. Strafford, 138; 7. Linn, 177; 8. El Dorado Springs, 242; 9. Plato, 244; 10. Jefferson: Festus, 246; 11. Bowling Green, 256; 12. Bishop LeBlond, 257; 13. Ava, 284; 14. Lawson, 310; 15. Father Tolton, 383; 16. Valley Park, 402.
Top 25 Individuals (All-State)
- 1. Nate Gelber, Whitfield, 16:04.62; 2. Kaden Overstreet, Lamar, 16:25.55; 3. Henry Huff, Lutheran: St. Charles, 16:29.83; 4. Philip Lagemann, Bowling Green, 16:42.30; 5. Daylan Quinn, Liberty: Mountain View, 16:48.01; 6. Alex Thompson, Russellville, 16:51.67; 7. Nicholas Ray, Lamar, 16:52.66; 8. Simon Gelber, Whitfield, 16:55.10; 9. Hunter Hennier, Fatima, 16:58.53; 10. Jason Otto, Blair Oaks, 17:02.36; 11. Shane Burns, Strafford, 17:08.11; 12. Garrett Shadwick, Clever, 17:11.81; 13. Nick Yaeger, Blair Oaks, 17:12.09; 14. Jacob Eck, Springfield Catholic, 17:12.71; 15. Stephen Kielhofner, Springfield Catholic, 17:16.07.
- 16. Loki Cortner, Herculaneum, 17:18.13; 17. Joe Stock, Crane, 17:20.39; 18. Logan Sicilia, Ava, 17:22.85; 19. Adam Burkett, California, 17:25.46; 20. Alex Leitner, Plato, 17:25.68; 21. Garret Reynolds, Woodland, 17:31.38; 22. Austin Rieth, Springfield Catholic, 17:31.41; 23. Luke Bruning, Wright City, 17:31.57; 24. Chris Hanson, Whitfield, 17:34.30; 25. Morgan Leake, Whitfield, 17:34.36.
Other Fatima Individuals
- 32. Alex Krieg, 17:50.54; 36. Cody Huhn, 17:54.37; 51. Austin Muenks, 18:09.09; 64. Logan Borland, 18:21.41; 88. Zach Even 18:46.21; 118. Kagen Froning, 19:17.44.
- 28. Chase Jones, 17:46.32; 45. Noah Voss, 18:04.72; 54. Jacob Voss, 18:12.73; 57. Joey Nilges, 18:15.72; 76. Tanner Rush, 18:30.66; 116. Ethan Grellner, 19:14.73; 141. Brandon Vernon, 19:47.74.
Other Russellville Individuals
- 37. Matthew Fringer, 17:56.90; 62. Anthony Bertucci, 18:20.44.