Werner leads Ste. Gen. to victory over St. Teresa’s; Lafayette Boys take crown at Enke Invitational

2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational




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The 38th Annual Paul Enke
Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational almost never happened. In fact,
cross county races ever being held again on the famous “Man-Maker” course with its
notorious hills at Sioux Passage Park were in doubt in the last year. Tough
economic times led the St. Louis County administration to propose budgets cuts
for the St. Louis County Parks Department. Included in those proposals were
closing or selling facilities and Sioux Passage was included in those. A public
outcry helped push the county to find ways to save some properties and services,
including Sioux Passage.
With Sioux Passage saved, the races went
on Saturday. Defending Varsity Team Champions St. Teresa’s was back, making the
trip from Kansas City as they have in recent years, as was Fort Zumwalt West on
the Boys side, though having lost two of their top four from last year’s race
to graduation. Hickman senior Nicole Mello would open her season trying to
defend her crown after missing all of the fun at the Forest Park XC
Invitational while taking the ACT last weekend. Mello undoubtedly knew what
she’d be facing, or at least who one of her top competitors would be, surely
hearing from her coaches and teammates who saw Ste. Genevieve’s freshman phenom
Taylor Werner blaze to victory at Forest Park.

On the boys side, returning champion
Amos Bartelsmeyer of MICDS would not be back. Dennis Barnidge of the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch reported he was likely out since he has been battling respiratory
problems that kept him out of contention at Forest Park. 
The sun was shining early during the
meet as Lafayette and Ste. Genevieve traded off the first four spots in the
varsity boy’s race. Lafayette (Wildwood) senior Derek Legenzoff got a little
revenge against Ste. Genevieve’s Andrew Moore, capturing the individual title
in 16:53, edging Moore by 4 seconds. At last week’s Forest Park meet, Moore
finished 10th edging Legenzoff by 2 seconds, who finished 15th.
Lafayette senior Jordan West, in just his second year of cross country, wasn’t
far behind finishing third in 17: 05, while Ste. Genevieve’s Tyler Uhrich
continued the trading places theme by placing 4th in 17:21.
Ft. Zumwalt West’s Tyler Percy improved
on his 9th place finish last year, taking 6th, just
behind Vianney’s Eddie Albarran who was 5th. Jefferson City was
without one of its top five but put three in the top 11 and four in the top 16.
Their 5th placer was 40th leaving them with 83 points.
Lafayette added a third medalist with Dylan Quisenberry’s 13th place
finish before the final four came rumbling down the finishing hill close
together, going 30, 31, 33, and 35th. Lafayette totaled 74 points as
the Lancers edged Jefferson City who scored 83.  Ft. Zumwalt West was third with 145 while Ste.
Genevieve edged Ladue for 4th, 165 to 173 in the 23 full team field.
Lafayette’s Legenzoff said it wasn’t
only the school’s first team meet title in his four years, but the first team
award of any kind he could remember. He added, “It’s definitely been awhile. It
feels great …the past couple of years I’ve kind of been just running as an
individual, so to finally have a team to …lead…feels a lot better. (It was) definitely
fun to get that plaque too.” The win wasn’t unexpected though for the Lancers.
Jordan West said “Our coach told us the day before the meet, ‘if you guys run
well you guys will win this meet, but if you don’t run what you’re capable of
we won’t win this meet.’ So our team definitely had the mindset going we want
to win this meet and we want to show Missouri that we’re a force to be reckoned
with this year.”

The Lafayette (Wildwood) Boys show off their Varsity 1st place team plaque at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

It was the first time for the pair at
“Man-Maker” and when asked if there was any anxiety or nerves Legenzoff said
“Definitely.  We heard about the
legendary Man-Maker, and the fact we had to run that twice was a little
intimidating, but once you’re in the race it just goes by quickly. It was a fun
race, great course.” The senior duo followed their slow-start race plan and gradually
moved their way through the field with Legenzoff saying he took the lead with a
half mile to go. The pair said celebration was in order and that the pain of
the brutal hills was outweighed by the team’s 1st place plaque.
Before the cloud cover set in, the Girls
Varsity race got going and featured two of the best runners in the state and
the Midwest. Ste. Genevieve freshman Taylor Werner and Hickman senior Nicole
Mello battled over the hilly 5k course. Werner got a quick start up the
“Man-Maker” hill the first time for an early lead. Mello followed closely until
about 1000 meters when Werner put more distance on her competition. On the
second time up “Man-Maker”, around 2.2 miles in, Werner had about a 15 to 20
second lead. The effect of the hills didn’t slow down the slight freshman much
as she kept pushing and distanced herself even more from the field in the final
¾ of a mile. Werner cruised down the finishing hill and into the chute to
another amazed and supportive crowd that clapped and cheered as she crossed the
finish in an amazing 18:28. Mello, the 2011 Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals Finalist,
improved three seconds on her 2011 victorious time to finish in 19:22. Parkway
West’s sophomore Maddy Brown had a strong finishing kick to clock in at 19:43
for 3rd while Rockwood Summit’s Alyssa Jones was 4th in
Ste. Genevieve freshman Taylor Werner races down the final hill to the finish in winning the Varsity Girls race at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

After last week’s 16:59 clocking, Werner
said she wasn’t sure what to expect time-wise for the hilly Man-Maker course,
but afterwards she said “I just went out hard and did my best”.  When asked about her expectations for her
first time at the notoriously hilly course Werner added, “I was expecting a
huuuge, long, steep hill and I looked at it and I was kind of like Woah! But it
wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be; because the first time it was
mostly the adrenaline from the start of the race that made it up and it wasn’t
really that hard. The second time up though, killer!”
Taylor Werner of Ste. Genevieve runs to her second straight big meet title, winning in 18:28 at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

Kaley Ruff, an All-Stater in 2011 with a
14th place finish as a freshman, 
was the first of three Jefferson City Lady Jays across the line in the
top 11 with a 5th place finish in 20:12. Jefferson City’s Emily
Deeken was held off by a strong kick by St. Teresa’s senior All-Stater Courtney
Coppinger.  Coppinger was the first of
four medalists for the Stars who put 4 in the top 16 with sophomores Ann
Campbell and Hayden Lee placing 8th and 14th. Ste.
Genevieve countered St. Teresa’s with four medalists of their own. After Taylor
Werner’s one point performance, Rachel Huck placed 10th while
Taylor’s sister Shelby, a junior, finished 11th and freshman Mia
Jerman 18th. 
St. Teresa’s other senior All-Stater
Lane Mcguire apparently wasn’t able to finish the race. The final scores:  Ste. Genevieve: 71, St. Teresa’s: 76.  A five point difference isn’t much to decide a
meet, and the team race was almost determined even more dramatically had you
totaled the top six scorers, the title would have come down to a 4.5 second
stretch.  Ste. Genevieve and St. Teresa’s
traded places with finishers going 31st through 34th, all
finishing within a less than 5 second time span. The top two of those finishers
were the 5th scorers though with Ste. Gen edging the Stars by five
points. Jefferson City was third with 95 while Ladue edge Rockwood Summit
The Ste. Genevieve girls pose with their 1st place Varsity Team plaque at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

Though she hadn’t heard Ste. Genevieve
had captured the meet title, Taylor Werner acted cool when asked about winning
the team title and beating St. Teresa’s. Werner said, “We found out that St.
Teresa’s was coming and we’re thinking, we got to put up a good race. Just
Knowing we got ahead was really special and really exciting.”  A shriek came from the Ste. Gen tent as
Werner returned and informed her teammates of the victory.
Asked about recovering from the exciting
Forest Park performance and preparing for this meet Werner said, “I stayed
focused, but I mean I’m still – it’s, I can’t believe it. It was my dream come
true, I never thought I could ever pull that off. Hannah Long really gave me a
lot of strength from that race. If she wasn’t there I probably never would have
run that time. It’s just so cool, I love it.”
Hickman senior Nicole Mello battles the “Man-Maker” hill the second time around at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

Hickman senior Nicole Mello said of her
runner-up finish, “It was my first race of the season, so I think it went
pretty good. I’m just excited to see how the rest of the season will go”. Mello’s
race did include a slight surprise interruption in the second mile. “I was
coming back toward woman-maker again …and all of a sudden this huge deer just
ran out in front of me. It was pretty exciting. It didn’t hit me … but it did
kind of scare me a little.”
Hickman senior Nicole Mello runs to a runner-up finish in 19:22 in the Varisty Girls race at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.
A deer stands in a field in Sioux Passage Park on Saturday, September 15, 2012 after the Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational. During the Varsity Girls race a deer ran across the course in front of Hickman’s Nicole Mello to startel the senior and give runners a distraction from the pain inflicted by the hilly “Man-Maker” course.
After watching her teammates race at the
Enke meet last year while doing a workout over the course, Jefferson City’s
Kaley Ruff talked about her first race at Sioux. Ruff said about racing the course
for the first time, “I was anxious, I get a little nervous before every meet.
When the quads are burning walking up the hill, (you) could kind of anticipate
what it was going to feel like running up the hill.” She survived though
saying, “It was not as bad as I thought it would be actually.”

Three All-Staters in 2011, taking 15th, 12th, and 14th, Maddy Brown of Parkway West placed 3rd at Enke, Rockwood Summit’s Alyssa Jones 4th, and Jefferson City’s Kaley Ruff 5th.
St. Teresa’s senior Courtney Coppinger
enjoyed making the trip east from Kansas City every year for the meet and hoped
it prepared the Stars for their best state finish ever. “I really like the trip,
mostly because of the hills. Even though our times are going to be terrible,
our coach tells us that, but in the end we know that this is going to prepare
us for the state course in Jefferson City, which is pretty hilly, but not as
hilly, so it will make the state course look easier.” She added, “This year
we’re definitely looking to be in the top contenders for 1st or 2nd
at State, I hope. We are pretty stacked with seniors and so I think this is our
year to finally pull off a win. 

With a crowd watching, Jefferson City’s Emily Deeken tries to hold off St. Teresa’s Courtney Coppinger and Ann Campbell at the finish of the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.
St. Teresa’s senior Courney Coppinger holds off Emily Deeken of Jefferson City at the finish of the Varsity Girls race at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

It was a good day for several runners who
have had siblings succeed on the Missouri running scene. Not just good, but it
was a great day to be a Menghini Saturday. Krista Menghini, the former St.
Joseph’s (St. Louis) All-Stater who began her freshman year at Southern
Illinois University last year and  began playing
volleyball before moving on to running full-time for the Salukis, got to enjoy
with her mother Teri, an excellent endurance athlete herself,  siblings Travis and Melissa earn medals. A
senior at Rockwood Summit, Travis finished 19th in the Varsity Boys
race while Summit freshman Melissa was 9th in the Varsity Girls
race. In addition, Alexias Happe, a Francis Howell North junior and presumably
sister of former North state track champion Nick Happe, was 20th in
the Varsity Girls Race. 

Rockwood Summit freshman Melissa Menghini preprares to stop her watch on her way to a 9th place finish at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.
Krista Menghini (left), Melissa Menghini (center), and Teri Fiala-Menghini watch the awards ceremony at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.
Francis Howell North junior Alexis Happe runs to a 20th place finish in the Varsity Girls at the 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central Cross Country Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, Saturday, September 15.

Results: http://www.fleetfeetstlouis.com/racing/race-results/paul-enkehazelwood-central-xc-invitational

Race Video and Interviews: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1ilp_eN1bGgcZ0vmWCtvE9gjiz3ob3Nk 

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