Werner’s Dream Season continues with first of two National Meets, Nike Cross Nationals Saturday


Werner’s Dream Season continues with first of two national meets, Nike Cross Nationals Saturday
While anyone could have predicted that Ste. Genevieve freshman Taylor Werner would
was going to have a great first high school cross country season after her
performances as an 8th grader, it’s hard to imagine anyone thought
it was going to be this good. How good has it been? Amazing!
A look back at 8th Grade
As
an eighth grader, Werner battled the freezing temperatures and placed 5th
in 15:42 in the High School Girls 4k at the USA Cross Country Championships in
St. Louis last February, ahead of a handful of Missouri All-State High
Schoolers, Werner went on to post a 5:01 clocking in the 1600 last spring.  Then on May 31st, Werner lined up
against many of the State’s top prep girls at the Big River Running Festival of
Miles. Werner improved to 5:00 for the full mile to finish 2nd to
Eureka freshman phenom Hannah Long, herself a middle-school standout who posted
times of 5:09 and 5:06 as a seventh and eighth grader at the Festival.
High School Debut postponed
The
weather disrupted many season opening cross country meets for the second
straight year in 2012. Heat was the culprit in 2011, while the forecasted
effects of Hurricane Isaac canceled or delayed many meets this year. Werner had
to wait a few days for her high school debut as the Jim Marshall Invitational
was pushed back from Saturday, September 1st, to Tuesday the 4th.
The delay couldn’t throw her off. Werner cruised to victory in 12:29 over 2.2
miles on a hilly course in Jefferson City. Werner beat runner-up Kaley Ruff,
who was 14th in the Class 4 State Meet as a freshman for Jefferson
City in 2011, by just over 45 seconds. Werner even edged her sister Shelby by
almost a minute and a half, as the siblings helped Ste. Genevieve to victory in
the seven full team race.
16:59!!!
Four
days after her debut, the Ste. Genevieve teams headed to St. Louis for the
Forest Park Cross Country Festival. The Lady Hunters would square off with some
of the best teams and individuals from Class 2, 3, and 4 in Missouri, and others
around the Midwest. Just more than a mile into the Varsity Green Girls 5k race,
it was a three-woman race with Werner and Herculaneum’s senior Kaitlyn Fischer
flanking Eureka sophomore Hannah Long. A thousand meters later, it was down to
two as Werner and Long had separated from Fischer. Over the last mile, the pair
battled, but in the last half-mile, Werner was able to pull away. Werner kicked
down the home stretch while a bug-eyed crowd cheered, not believing what they
could see. Werner crossed the finish in 16:59! Long wasn’t far back in an
amazing 17:08. Announcer Ben Rosario of Big River Running encouraged the crowd
to cheer on the runners as they covered the final few hundred meters and
eventually announced it was the most amazing cross country race he had ever
seen. The knowledgeable runners in the crowd were stunned and Werner crossed
the line getting applause from fans and meet workers. Werner then collapsed
into father Chris’ arms for an emotional hug before sharing a congratulatory
half-hug/pat on the back with Long. It was unreal. Even if doubters could claim
the course was short, the time was still phenomenal even if the course had been
several hundred meters short. Forest Park was the first of three straight meets
Ste. Genevieve would race at big invitational races in St. Louis.

Taylor Werner 16:59! Varsity Green Champion 2012 Forest Park XC Festival

Domination at Enke/Hancock
A
week after the jaw-dropping performance at Forest Park, Ste. Genevieve returned
to St. Louis for the Paul Enke/Hazelwood Central Invitational at Sioux Passage
Park. Werner and the Hunters would face off against more of the state’s best as
Nicole Mello of Hickman, a 2011 Foot Locker Finalist, made her season debut
after missing the Forest Park Meet while taking the ACT. In addition, one of
the top girls programs in the state, St. Teresa’s Academy from Kansas City made
the trip to run the famous “Man-Maker” course known for its devastating hills.
Mello captured the 2011 meet title in 19:25 and improved to 19:22 this time
around and may have been faster had a deer not run out of the woods in the
second mile to surprise and distract her. But no one was able keep up with Werner
who cruised and flew down the final hill and across the finish in an unreal
18:28, winning by more than 50 seconds. For the second week in a row, she awed
the finish stretch crowd who cheered her to victory. Werner led Ste. Genevieve
to an upset victory over St. Teresa’s who had one of their top runners not
finish. Ste. Gen totaled 71 points to edge St. Teresa who totaled 76 and
Jefferson City who scored 95.

Taylor Werner 1st 2012 Paul Enke Hazelwood Central XC Inv

In
week four of competition, Ste. Genevieve headed north again for the 50th
Annual Hancock Cross Country Invitational at Jefferson Barracks. The Hunters
dominated. A short while after Herculaneum’s standout senior Kaitlyn Fischer
posted an amazing 18:27 on the tough course in the 1A-2A race, Taylor Werner
blasted to a 18:00 clocking, to win by 1:45. Big sister Shelby placed third
while Rachel Huck was 4th as the team put five in the top nine and
six in the top 13. They totaled 25 points to easily win.

Taylor & Shelby Werner 1st & 3rd 3A 2012 Hancock XC Invitational

Rolling through October
As
the calendar turned to October the Ste. Genevieve girls kept things rolling as
State Meet neared. At the Potosi Invitational on October 6, Werner and Ste. Gen
cruised to victory over many of the top teams in Eastern Central region of the
state. Werner face off against her toughest competition in Class 3 in Potosi’s
Sarah Jacobson. Werner won in 17:30 to beat runner-up Jacobson who finished in
18:37. The Hunters totaled 27 points in the 11 full team race. Werner and
Jacobson battled again a week later at the St. Francis Borgia Invitational in
Washington. Werner dipped under the 18:00 barrier again with a 17:55 finish
while Jacobson was second in 19:00 and sister Shelby was third. The Ste. Gen
girls again posted a score in the 20s-24, to earn another team title.
After
a week off it was back to Jefferson Barracks for the Class 3 District 1 Meet.
Just like at Borgia, The Werners sandwiched Potosi’s Jacobsen, as the trio went
1-2-3. Taylor finished in 18:15 for a 45-second victory. Ste. Gen continued to
dominate going 1-3-6-7-8-9 and totaled 21 points.
Great day at State
With
the regular high school season coming to an end with the State Cross Country
Meet at Jefferson City’s Oak Hills Golf Center, the Ste. Genevieve girls had
put themselves in position to cap an almost perfect season with a great finish.
In the first race of the day Taylor Werner didn’t waste any time showing what
her intentions were. At 600 meters Werner already had a five second lead on a
chasing Sarah Jacobsen while the Ste. Genevieve pack trailed another five
seconds back.
At
the mile mark, Werner clocked in at 5:36, nine seconds ahead of Jacobsen. The
State’s top Class 3 runners including Smithville’s Katie Tuck, Fulton’s Jenny
McCarty, Clinton’s Nicole Lee, Liberty North’s Sammy Laurenzo, and Cape-Notre
Dame’s Breanna Conklin, along with the Ste. Genevieve girls among others, all
made chase, but there was little hope. Werner was nine seconds faster than
anyone else for the second mile and was at 11:31 at the two mile mark, 18
seconds faster than Jacobsen. Werner had no problems on the third mile’s Fire
House Hill and powered up the finish stretch and across the line in 18:19, for
one of the all-time best state meet times. Sarah Jacobsen eased to second with
an impressive 18:44.
Werner’s
teammates weren’t far behind. Shelby Werner finished 5th in 19:51,
Mallory Koller was 9th, Mia Jerman 18th, Rachel Huck 24th,  and Morgan Grither 27th. The Lady
Hunters put an astonishing six runners in the top 27 and totaled just 42 points
to easily capture the State title. Festus was second with 100.
The
day could not have been much better for the Ste. Genevieve girls, or for
Taylor, Shelby and assistant coach Chris Werner.

Taylor & Shelby Werner, Ste. Genevieve State Champs Class 3 2012 Missouri State HS XC

Nike Cross Midwest
Eight
days after State, Werner toed the line on the Lavern Gibson Cross Country
Course in Terre Haute, IN. It was the Nike Cross Midwest Regional, one of eight
across the country, and comprised of athletes from five Midwest States, with
the top five individuals and top two teams earning trips to Nike Cross
Nationals in Portland. Werner was off from the gun and took an early lead in the
first few hundred meters. At the mile Werner was with two others and had a
several meter lead on the chase pack. That lead didn’t hold long as eight girls
were in the mix soon after the mile and suddenly the race was on. Werner fell
to eighth soon after. At two miles, a trio had pulled away from the pack and
then Ashley Erba turned on the jets. Erba pulled away and went on to victory in
17:38. Werner stayed focused though and kept pushing hoping to finish in the
top five and earn a trip to Portland for Nike Cross Nationals. Down the long
finish stretch, Werner and three others were battling for third. One of the four
was going to finish sixth and be left out of nationals. It wasn’t Werner.
Werner moved her way to third and held on, to punch her ticket to Oregon. Werner
finished in 18:08, 2/10ths of a second ahead of 4th, four seconds
ahead of 5th, and six seconds ahead of the unlucky sixth place
finisher.
Werner
kept the streak of female Missouri Nike Cross Nationals qualifiers going, and
became the first freshman Missourian to qualify. Missouri will be represented
by a girl at nationals for the fifth straight year.
Foot Locker Midwest
Two
days after Thanksgiving, on November 24, Werner was looking to become the first
ever Missourian to qualify for both Nike Cross Nationals-in its ninth year, and
Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals-more than 30 years old. Werner need a top
10 finish and she got out strong, along with Eureka’s Hannah Long. Halfway
through Werner and Long were in a pack of about eight at the front. Anna Rohrer
of Indiana pulled away to set a meet record of 16:54 on the Wayne Dannehl
Course at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Werner ran to a runner-up
finish in 17: 06 while Long also earned a trip to San Diego for Nationals with
her 7th place finish.
Werner’s
Dream season was extended and take her to Portland, Oregon and San Diego,
California for the two most prestigious meet in high school cross country.
Set for Nike Cross Nationals
In
a phone interview Friday evening, Werner sounded like she was having a lot of
fun in Portland and excited for the new experience. “It’s really cool so far.
It’ such a good experience and it’s just so cool to be here.” She mentioned she
was able to get autographs from some of Nike’s Professional runners, including
Missouri’s own Matt Tegenkamp. Werner also talked about her regional races.
“(At Nike Midwest Regionals) I went out and actually didn’t have that good of a
race at Nike, I got through… I’m really happy. At Foot Locker, I learned from
Nike, I can’t go out (too) fast, I’ve got to stay focused. I had a really good
race at Foot Locker.”
So
what is the freshman from Bloomsdale, Missouri thinking and feeling headed into
the biggest race of her life? “I’m a little nervous. It’s really exciting. I
first came here thinking ‘okay, there’s like really a lot of state champions
and elite (runners)’. My goal is to go out and stay with girls like Sarah
Baxter and Amy-Eloise Neale, and stay with that front pack and hold on as long
as I can. Take their pace and stay strong and see what happens in the end.”
MileSplit has Werner ranked eighth in the Girls Individual National rankings,
and she is the fourth highest ranked runner among the fifteen Top 25 ranked
runners scheduled to race in Portland. Werner would love to prove she is worthy
of the ranking and capable of a top finish. “… I’m going to really try and
(finish 4th) and maybe get higher, I don’t know, (I’m just going to) go out
there and race and have fun with it, and hopefully be All-American.”
Whether
that happens or not, or even if she has a disappointing day, Werner should be
nothing but proud of the season she has had. In addition, the Missouri cross
country and running community can be proud of Werner. She’s not only
entertained fans race after race with jaw-dropping performances, but handled
herself well with all of the attention. She’s been graceful and humble in
victory. Some of the praise for that surely has to go to her family and
coaches, including big sister and teammate Shelby, father and Coach Chris, and
Ste. Genevieve Head Coach Brian Jett.

Taylor Werner set for Nike Cross Nationals 2012 Phone Interview

Nike Cross Nationals Missouri All-Time Qualifiers
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2006
Potosi Boys 8th /20
10th   Joshua Mathis Potosi XC Club 16:55.1
17th   Joshua Swearingen Potosi XC Club 17:07.2

26th   Joshua Thebeau Potosi XC Club 17:16.8
63th   Daniel Forbes Potosi XC Club 17:54.4
75th   Nicholas Niggemann Potosi XC Club 18:03.6

124th Joseph Skelton Potosi XC Club 18:50.9
132th Evan Kelly Potosi XC Club 19:08.0Normal
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2008

81st Megan Yohe Liberty XC Club        18:59.5

198 Finishers

15th JacobSwearingen Potosi XC
Club         15:36.4

197 Finishers

2009
43rd Chelsey Phoebus    11 Midwest-4Lee’s Summit West 18:40.60
2010
19th Samantha
Nightingale 12 Midwest-2 Blue Springs South 19:19.9
199 finishers
2011
8th Samantha Nightengale MIDWEST-2  Blue Springs South 17:59
196 finishers
9th Zachary Herriott M MIDWEST-4 Rockhurst 15:38
199 finishers
2012
Taylor Werner Ste. Genevieve

One response to “Werner’s Dream Season continues with first of two National Meets, Nike Cross Nationals Saturday

  1. Taylor is awesome! AND so is her sister Shelby who has had to take a back seat this year but has done it so gracefully! Way to go to both of you! We are so proud of you both!
    ABC

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