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Wooderson misses title but earns all-state honor

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner
Blue Springs senior Brock Wooderson, left, runs near the front of the pack in the Class 5 boys state meet Saturday at Gans Creek in Columbia. Wooderson finished fifth for all-state honors.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Brock Wooderson was hoping to end his high school running career with a state championship.

The Blue Springs senior standout was among the favorites, entering with the second fastest time in the state according to MoMileSplit.com, at the Class 5 Missouri State High School Cross Country Championships on Saturday. That was exactly where he was more than halfway through the race, sitting in second in the 161-runner field. He fell back to third with one kilometer left and ultimately finished fifth by a hair as he nipped Raymore-Peculiar’s Luke Voelker at the finish line by a tenth of a second.

The championship was won by the heavily favored Matthew Hauser of Columbia Rock Bridge, who had beaten Wooderson twice head-to-head this season.

“I ran the best race I possibly could, given how it went,” said Wooderson, who finished the 5K race in 15 minutes, 47 seconds. “I left everything out there. I would’ve loved to finish higher and go after that state championship but respect to Hauser and how he finished. Every time we raced it would be a battle. I knew that it would come down to the last 1K and who was feeling the best. I held on the best I could.”

Liberty North’s Ethan Lee and Springfield Kickapoo’s Tyler Harris passed Wooderson on the straight away.

Despite that, Wooderson became the highest finishing Wildcat since his former teammate Victor Mugeche won the Class 4 title in 2017.

Wooderson was a freshman on that team and he placed 98th on a squad that won the state championship. He finished 138th as a sophomore before moving up to the all-state podium last year with an 18th-place finish in Class 4.

“Starting off my freshman year on the state (championship) team and like I said, I wanted to finish as a state champion. It's been a great four years at Blue Springs and running under (Coach Frank) Gallick. I’m looking forward to college and I know my better days are yet to come.”

Wooderson is currently weighing offers and should make a decision on his collegiate home soon, he said following the race.

This year marked the first time since Wooderson’s freshman year that the Wildcats qualified a team to state. Blue Springs took 14th in the state meet, two spots ahead of Blue Springs South.

Wooderson was one of only two Blue Springs runners to finish in the top 100, joined by Keagan Enicks, who was 52nd. The freshman closed well, moving up from 68th heading into the final kilometer and his 3:15 split was his second fastest on the day.

South had an entire roster of underclassmen running and were making the team’s first appearance since 1992. Sophomore Quintin Falk and junior Alex Jackson were two seconds apart, placing 106th and 111th, respectively.

Lee’s Summit North’s Carson Clancy and Logan Bringer, Truman's Josh Nunn and Grain Valley’s Collin Clemens were the other runners from the area at state. Clemens, a senior, was 86th, while Binger placed 28th. Nunn, another senior, was 123rd in his first trip to state. 

Clancy, a junior, earned all-state honors with a 23rd-place finish.

“I thought I was 25th coming down the stretch, but I was 24th,” Clancy said. “If I didn’t kick as hard as I did, I would’ve gotten caught by all the guys and I would’ve been cut out of the top 25. It hurt a lot at the end but my coach (Matthew Shortino), at about the last 800 meters, said believe. That was all I needed, I was running hard and emptied the tank.”

Clancy’s 16:14.4 set a new personal record and gave him his first all-state finish after placing 69th last year in Class 4.

Of the final four all-state runners, only four-tenths of a second separated that group. Clancy was a tenth of a second behind Staley’s Andrew Atkins, who was 22nd. Clancy edged the two runners behind him by two-tenths and three-tenths of a second.

CLASS 4

Angel Marmolejo was a returning state qualifier for Van Horn but that experience didn’t really help on this course.

The senior ran in the Class 4 MSHSAA Cross Country Championships on Friday at Gans Creek Cross Country. The last time he qualified for state was in 2018, when the race was held at the Oak Hill Golf Course in Jefferson City.

He did improve his finish at state, going from 130th in Jefferson City (in Class 3) to 66th on the Columbia course, running the 5K in 17:46.2.

“I didn’t feel boxed in, I was able to move around but what got me was the second mile, I started breaking down and people started to pass me,” said Marmolejo, who was outside of all-state contention sitting in 34th early on but his place steadily fell the remaining kilometers. “Overall, I thought it was a good race.”

When he walked off the course for the final time in his career, Van Horn coach Julie Crowell asked her lone senior state qualifier if he ever thought the running bug would bite him.

When he started high school he was shy, but at the urging of his sister, Lena Hurtado, he went out for the cross country team to help make friends. A year later, he felt he found a home in the Falcons pack.

Crowell enjoyed the addition of a hard worker, something she saw often from Marmolejo.

“We will sustain a huge loss and I don’t want to talk about it,” Crowell said of her senior leader. “I think we have kept our distance, not only socially, but knowing this was his last race.”

Teammates Peyton Bass (129th), Osmar Cruz (136th) Cameron McCormack (149th) rounded out the largest state contingent ever for Van Horn. She expects that group to make its seventh trip to the state meet in a 12-year span next fall.

CLASS 3

St. Michael the Archangel had a trio of state qualifiers in the Class 3 race, which was held Thursday.

Senior Chris Oberkrom took 30th place in his final race for the Guardians, running the 5K course in 17:26.80 – about nine seconds off the pace of the final all-state selection.

His performance came less than 24 hours after his soccer career ended with a 1-0 loss in double overtime as St. Michael fell to Van Horn in a district championship game.

He ended his cross country career as a three-time state qualifier and this was his best finish and his first in Class 3 after going to state in Class 2 as a freshman and sophomore.

Junior Jack Wheeler placed 53rd and sophomore Sam Rosenberg was 74th for St. Michael.