COLUMBIA — The conditions were perfect for Jack Crull.
The new Gans Creek Cross Country Course was dry, which allowed the long-legged Helias senior to generate push and reach his full stride. The temperature was a balmy 56 degrees, with a nice breeze.
Crull used those conditions and turned in a personal record Saturday, finishing second in the Class 4 boys state championship in 15:21.30. Rockhurst senior Wesley Porter finished first in 15:07.5.
"(The course) was in great shape today with the dry conditions, and that fits Jack perfectly," Helias coach Brad Hake said after the medal ceremony. "He ran a great race."
The result makes Crull the first Helias boy to win all-state cross country honors in all four years.
"It meant everything, because I knew there was a lot of good talent around me," Crull said after the race. "It was really fun getting to run against them because they pushed me, it wasn't just one or two people."
Crull was the lone Crusader at the state meet, but he did not let the jump up to Class 4 — he finished 14th as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore and third last year, all in Class 3 — throw him off his game.
"It was tough at the start, because I was thinking, 'Well, this is really odd, usually I'm Class 3,'" he said. "But I got used to it over time. Kinda got me a little excited, but a little nervous at the same time when I got here. But I just told myself, 'You earned your way here, so just have confidence in yourself and whatever happens, happens.'"
Crull ran a confident race from the gun. He was seventh after the first kilometer in 2:55.1, sixth after two kilometers and second the rest of the way. Porter kicked after the 3K mark, and Crull focused on holding off Matthew Hauser, Braden Zaner and Noah Scott to take second.
"It was pretty amazing. I thought Jack was really well-prepared," Hake said. "I think he's our first four-time all-stater in our school's history, and then to do it the first three years in Class 3 and then come up to Class 4 and still perform like he did, very impressive. Very impressive performance, but all that hard work he put in, I think it paid off today."
Hake said Crull warmed up before the race with runners from other teams, and quickly made friends.
As a result, there were familiar faces at the podium for Crull. He gave Porter a congratulatory tap on the shoulder as Porter stepped up to the first-place podium, and Crull was chatting with Raymore-Peculiar's Zaner, who finished fourth in 15:26, after the individual medal ceremony.
"It was a great race. I couldn't have done too much more to get closer to Wesley Porter," Crull said. "He was just fast. And he's a good guy, so I really respect that for him and I'm really glad for him. But it was a great day, I thought, for me as a person. I'm really proud of my team for getting me here, I want to thank my coaches especially, family for coming (to Columbia) to cheer me on, and friends too. It was a good weekend. Exciting."
The Gans Creek Course already has a reputation as a fast course, and El Dorado Springs sophomore Daelen Ackley set a new course record earlier in the morning in the Class 3 boys race with a time of 15:39.0. The top five Class 4 finishers — Porter, Crull, Hauser (Rock Bridge), Zaner and Scott (St. Louis University High) — all bested that record.
Porter ran his second-fastest kilometer split between three and four kilometers, which Crull just couldn't match, but he outran the rest of the field and ran into the Helias record book.