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2020 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year: Wildcats' Wooderson goes from 'skinny freshman' to champion

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Blue Springs' Brock Wooderson, front, runs to a victory in the Suburban Big Eight Championship. The once "skinny freshman" finished his high school career with conference and district titles, a fifth-place state finish and a 38th place showing in a national meet. He is The Examiner's 2020 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

When Brock Wooderson was a “skinny freshman” at Blue Springs High School, he enjoyed the ultimate in any team sport – being a part of a Wildcats state championship squad.

“I was just this quiet, skinny freshman who watched how the big boys conducted themselves at practice and at meets and I never – I mean I never – thought I would be mentioned alongside runners like Victor Mugeche and Gabe McClain.”

Yet, here he is three years later, coming off a remarkable season that saw him finish first in the Suburban Big Eight Conference (15 minutes, 49.8 seconds), first at district (16:12.8) and fifth at the Class 5 state meet (15:46.9).

Wooderson now can add his name alongside former Wildcat greats like McClain, Victor Mugeche, Stephen Mugeche and Simon Belete – all former Examiner Cross Country Runners of the Year.

“I still can’t believe I won the award,” Wooderson said. “It’s just amazing. Coach (Frank) Gallick has created this amazing running culture at Blue Springs High School, and now I’m part of the legacy.

“I started being a part of a state championship team as a freshman who was just taking it all in, and I finish my career at Blue Springs as The Examiner’s Cross Country Runner of the Year. Wow.”

Gallick has become one of Wooderson’s biggest fans.

“He was a skinny little freshman,” quipped Gallick, “but you could tell he paid a lot of attention to the older guys. And he improved every year. He really deserves this honor, and I know it means a lot to him to be mentioned alongside all the other Blue Springs runners who won it.”

While Wooderson starred at in-state meets, he represented Missouri well at some premier meets across the country.

“He did run a couple races after the season,” Gallick said. “He finished 29th in 15:53.7 at the XC Town USA Meet of Champions in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“He also ran in the RunningLane National Cross Country Championship in Huntsville, Alabama. He finished 38th in a new PR (personal record) time of 15:03.97 (for 5 kilometers). And he was the top Missouri runner in each event.”

Perhaps Wooderson’s finest moment came when he won the conference championship, helping to ease the pain of a second-place finish as a junior.

Last fall, Raymore-Peculiar’s Braden Zaner won the conference meet in a photo finish over Wooderson with a final separation of .30 of a second.

“It felt so good to win conference this year after what happened last year,” Wooderson said. “All I thought about was losing it so close last year. It made me work harder this year, and the hard work paid off the entire season.”

Wooderson also added his name to the long list of champions from Blue Springs, making him the eighth to earn that honor since 2012.

McClain won it in 2018, Victor Mugeche won in 2016-17, Cody Berry in 2015, Stephen Mugeche in 2013-14, and Simon Belete won in 2012.

“We had a great winning streak in conference that was broken last year,” Wooderson said. “I hope my win (at conference) starts a new streak.”

Wooderson plans to attend Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he will run cross country and track.

“I’m looking forward to new challenges,” he said. “It was a great career at Blue Springs and I’m looking forward to running in college.”

2020 All-Area Boys Cross Country

FIRST TEAM

Logan Binger, soph., Lee's Summit North — 78th at Class 5 state (16:56.8); 11th at Class 5 District 7 (17:03.7); 25th at Suburban Big Six Championships (17:18.9).

Carson Clancy, jr., Lee's Summit North — 23rd at Class 5 state (16:14.4); 4th at Class 5 District 7 (16:36.26); 7th at Suburban Big Eight Championships (16:44.8).

Collin Clemens, sr., Grain Valley — 86th at Class 5 state (17:06.6); 6th at Class 5 District 5 (17:57.40).

Keagan Enicks, soph., Blue Springs — 52nd at Class 5 state (16:41.6); 6th at Class 5 District 7 (16:47.05); 19th at Suburban Big Eight Championships (17:03.9).

Kevin McClain, sr., Blue Springs — 108th at Class 5 state (17:26.8); 5th at Class 5 District 7 (16:39.75); 20th at Suburban Big Eight Championships (17:05.8).

Josh Nunn, sr., Truman — 123rd at Class 5 state (17:36.2); 3rd at Class 5 District 7 (16:33.89); Suburban Middle Six champion (16:51.58).

Brock Wooderson, sr., Blue Springs — 5th at Class 5 state (15:46.9); Class 5 District 7 champion (16:12.82); Suburban Big Eight champion (15:49.8); 2020 Examiner Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

HONORABLE MENTION

Blue Springs: Otto Dreher, fresh.; Gauge Eiland, soph.; Luke Ontman, soph.; Viger Romo, jr.; Blue Springs South: Quintin Falk, soph.; Alex Jackson, jr.; Rhett Jenkins, soph.; Jason Klassen, jr.; Ryan Ringgenberg, jr.; Ian Zind, soph.; St. Michael the Archangel Catholic: Chris Oberkrom, sr.; Sam Roseberg, soph.; Jack Wheeler, jr.; Truman: Jack Getman, jr.; Van Horn: Peyton Bass, jr.; Osmar Cruz, soph.; Angel Marmolejo, sr.; Cameron McCormack, jr.