COLUMBIA, Mo. – The weather could not have been more perfect at the Missouri State High School Cross Country Championships at Gans Creek in Columbia Saturday. In the post-run gathering in the Blue Springs South girls tent, the mood could hardly have been happier.
Spirits were high as the Jaguars finished fourth overall, earning a spot at the podium and a state trophy in the Saturday afternoon 5K event.
The Jaguars were propelled by a remarkable individual performance from sophomore Mya Trober, who finished second overall in Class 4 with a time of 18 minutes, 13 seconds, keeping pace with champion Carolyn Ford of Columbia Rock Bridge almost the entire way.
“I think I definitely tried my best,” Trober said. “I didn’t really expect this outcome, but I just wanted to work hard for my team.”
Trober spoke about the work ethic the team has put in during the season, and that this event was the culmination of everyone’s efforts.
“We just wanted it really bad,” she said. “We wanted to get on the podium, and we love each other so much.”
It was another elite performance for Trober, who also recorded a second place finish behind Ford at sectionals.
Blue Springs South coach Ryan Unruh was just as thrilled with the results as his team, complimenting each runner on their efforts Saturday. Unruh reserved praise for Trober’s elite performance.
“Maya, to finish second place, she was closing on Carolyn who is a phenomenal runner,” Unruh said. “She just ran the perfect race.”
Ford finished first overall with a time of 18:08, while Lee’s Summit West claimed the Class 4 team title, led by 11th place finisher Madison Hulsey.
Besides the strong finish from his team, Unruh raved about the improvement he has seen over the course of the season. More impressive, he said, was how well his team did despite its youth.
“We’re young – we’re super young,” Unruh said. “We’ve got five freshmen and sophomores, and I think the future is bright. The team, from where we started from the first meet to the last meet has just made a huge improvement. I’ve never had a group improve this much.”
Senior Lauren Low praised Trober and the underclassmen for their improvement, helping to contribute to the fun team atmosphere that has grown over the past few months.
“They’re great,” said Low, who finished 23rd overall to also earn all-state honors with a time of 19:03.3. “They all have the same team spirit. We’re playing games up on the bus ride here, it’s really fun. We really do better because we are a team.”
Unruh, Trober and Low all emphasized one thing together: Saturday was a complete team effort. In the middle of the pack was senior Paige Fallis and sophomore McKenna Ledgerwood.
Ledgerwood finished 68th overall with a time of 19:53, and Fallis 70th with a time of 19:57. Both performances helped push Blue Springs South to the top four finish with 162 points, which trailed only Lee’s Summit West (109), Rock Bridge (112) and Eureka (140).
Unruh specifically credited Fallis as an anchor for the Jaguars despite having battled recent injury problems.
“She’s been out with an ankle sprain, and for her to come back and be healthy enough to not only run, but to run well and contribute was a bonus for us,” Unruh said.
Fallis was able to gain ground during the race.
“She moved up in the middle of the race,” Unruh said. “We don’t get up on the podium without her.”
Freshman Caitlin Grover had South’s last team scoring spot, finishing 102nd (20:20.4).
Each runner spoke at length about hard work and credited the team’s work ethic for getting everybody this far. Low reserved praise for the work the senior class has put in, and said the hard work the team has put in was worth it for Saturday.
“We woke up this morning and we were like, ‘It’s for the seniors, it’s for the work we’ve put in over the last six months,” Low said.
Lee’s Summit North senior Annie McCord and Blue Springs senior Alyna Thibault also earned all-state honors for a top-25 finish. McCord finished eighth in 18:43.1, while Thibault was 19th in 18:56.4.
Grain Valley junior Valerie Holcomb finished 104th (20:21.0).
CLASS 4 BOYS: Grain Valley senior Royce Fisher made the most of his first state meet appearance, earning Class 4 all-state honors.
Blue Springs junior Brock Wooderson was the only other area boys runner to claim all-state honors for a top-25 finish.
Fisher finished 16th with a time of 15:52.2. Wooderson was 18th in 15:53.5.
Senior Jack Klassen led Blue Springs South’s contingent with a 71st place finish (16:32.0), and Fort Osage senior Michael Reddick was 96th (16:43.6).
CLASS 3 GIRLS: Oak Grove freshman Aubrey Johnson ran to a 54th-place finish in 20:31.3 in the Class 3 girls race.
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic junior Eva Petrini finished 68th (20:45.4).