2013 Suburban West Conference Cross Country Championships
Kauppila and Long blaze while Lafayette and Eureka go 1-2, splitting titlesChris Auckley October 17, 2013
It’s likely that most residents of House Springs or even most Northwest Jefferson County residents were unaware of the athletic competition that was going on Saturday morning on the grounds of the Northwest School District’s Early Childhood Education Center.
And it’s likely only a few knew what level of talent was on display at the Suburban West Conference Cross Country Championships. And it’s most likely that just about all in attendance Saturday were closely affiliated with one of the schools competing, whether athletes, coaches, family, athletic training staff, volunteers, etc. Unfortunately those unaware of the event missed their chance to see two of the best high school runners in the country and a couple of good team battles.
Marquette senior Noah Kauppila and Eureka junior Hannah Long put on a show Saturday. While some of those in attendance watching probably didn’t realize exactly how special what they were seeing was, they knew it was more or less “Amazing!” They were seeing two of the top prep runners in the U.S. and two of the best all-time from Missouri.
Kauppila, Lafayette cruise to Boys Titles
A week after a recruiting visit to Stanford, Noah Kauppila, showed why the storied distance running program and every other college in America would love to have him accept their scholarship offer. As usual, Kauppila went out conservatively the first mile, with others trying to keep a smart pace and keying off him. But soon after the mile Kauppila shifted to the next gear and left the field behind.
Kaupilla pushed himself around the almost completely flat course filled with lots of hard 90 degree and a few 180 degree turns to finish in impressive 15:29, right at 5:00 minute pace, a time he likely would be happy to run in four weeks at the state meet. Kauppila won by 39 seconds, claiming his third straight Suburban West conference cross country title. Lafayette boys coach Scott O’Connor said of Kauppila’s performance: “…that’s crazy impressive for how tight those corners are and he did it by himself… it’s humid, some of the 90 degree corners were slick. That was impressive.”
Lafayette sophomore standout Dylan Quisenberry, who has looked like one of the 5-10 boys in the state all season, was second in 16:08. Not far behind Quisenberry were most of his Lancer teammates. After Eureka senior Tyler Beaman took third in 16:13, Lafayette’s first year team members: freshman Austin Hindman and sophomore Alec Haines, came across the finish in 4th and 5th in 16:20 and 16:22. Fox senior Cyle Quick was 6th, with Lafayette taking seventh and ninth with Josiah McElmurry and Devin Meyrer. Eureka freshman Zach Long was eighth and Marquette’s Kevin Ganahl 10th. Long is the second of three running children in the Long family, with older sister Hannah and younger brother Nathan.
With five runners in the top nine including a 1-5 split of just 30 seconds, and seven in the top 17-all under 17:11; Lafayette scored just 27 points, just under half of runner-up Eureka’s total of 55 points. It was the second straight team title for Lafayette, which earned their first ever State trophy with last fall’s third place Class 4 finish. Eureka added two more top-15 All-Conference finishes with Sam Naeger-11th and Jerod Broadbooks-14th. Marquette finished third with 71 points while Parkway South was fourth with 107 points. Seven teams totaled scores while Mehlville fielded a partial team and Oakville only raced boys in the Junior Varsity and Freshman races.
Despite losing two All-State runners from last year’s trophy team in Jordan West and Derek Legenzoff-who were in attendance Saturday, the Lancers have kept the success going. This was their fourth meet title in six races with a third place finish at the Forest Park Festival’s Green Division and a second place finish in 4A at the Hancock Invitational. A big part because of the continued success has come from two first year runners in freshman Austin Hindman, who has been a competitive triathlete since a young age, and sophomore Alec Haines, who will resume training with the elite St. Louis Scott Gallagher club’s USA developmental soccer program in November and ran track last spring.
Quisenberry said about the situation: “I was kind of bummed out when it was state cross country last year and I was like ‘This is the last time I’ll run with these guys’ and then I learned of Austin and I already knew Alec, and they both stepped it up. It’s kind of like we didn’t lose anyone.” Alec said about the success: “I think we are doing really well, we’re doing exactly what coach wants us to, so you can’t complain.” About the experience Austin said “It’s been great. I do triathlon over the summer and I’m so used to training alone and it’s so nice to have people who you can train with and race with. It’s just been amazing for me.”
About Saturday’s race Quisenberry said:” I tried sticking with Noah the first (mile) and these guys were right behind me and Noah did his thing and took off again. The plan was to try to stick with him and I was relying on the flat course to allow me to not die, and I didn’t. I just ran hard and I know these guys did, and I guess we all ran a good race…” After fading a little the second half of the previous Saturday’s Parkway West Meet, Hindman added: “We went out at a good pace, like 5:05 (for the first mile). We were trying to keep ourselves a little bit farther back of Dylan than we usually do because we felt that would be a better strategy.
2013 SWC XC 1st plc Lafayette’s Quisenberry, Haines, & Hindman
Lafayette Coach Scott O’Connor surely couldn’t have seen his team having this much success after losing two top-15 state finishers and his fourth runner could he? “I wasn’t sure actually.” But he knew last years’ experience was more beneficial than just earning a state trophy and a couple of All-State honors. “A lot of the youngsters saw Derek and Jordan do it last year and they wanted to be a part of something like that and they put in a lot of hard work this summer to make sure they could try again.” That included: “… Devin Meyrer and Josiah (McElmurry). Those guys really stepped up their running in the summer. I was like “Ok, we might be alright”. We go into our home meet and raced our home meet and we were missing a couple of kids at that one and I was like “OK, we’re better than I thought”. Then at Forest Park they all just ran incredible. And I was like “we’re pretty good, we’re doing okay.”
Things couldn’t have gotten much better for the Lancers. “I was like “Ok best case scenario we could do this and worst case scenario-we’re going to be pretty competitive (despite being) pretty young. I think in the end the kids ended up being more surprised than I was. After Forest Park they were like: “Wow I can’t believe we did this”. They were all really excited, which is pretty cool.”
After their second place finish, Eureka’s Tyler Beaman said he was happy with their performance “I think today we had a great day. Everyone got out there and did their part. Zach Long added: “I think we all had really good races and our four and five really helped us out with points.” As far as the course was concerned, Long said: “There were a couple of U-turns and if you ran those correctly…you came out of them fast, it really helped you.” And what was it like knowing Zach was coming to join the team this year? “I was really excited…being famous Hannah Long’s little brother, I kind of worried about it, but he definitely made our top four or five step up their level and compete with him.” Zach has watched sister Hannah have plenty of success over the last two years of high school and is now getting his shot. “I’m really excited. I’m finally a freshman and I can finally run high school cross country and experience what Hannah got to experience as a freshman. It’s a great experience. Hannah has been improving a lot and I just hope I improve too and run faster times.
2013 SWC XC 2nd Plc Eureka’s Tyler Beaman & Zach Long
Varsity Boys Finish, 2013 Suburban West Conf XC Champs
Long looks strong as Eureka edges Lafayette Girls
Hannah Long looked like herself for the first time this season in a race in Missouri. The Foot Locker All-American who earned the distinction with her 10th place finish at last December’s National meet, didn’t perform as fans have come to expect at the Forest Park XC Festival and the Hancock Invitational. Long was still excellent with second and third place finishes behind great runners, just not the usual jaw-dropping races that leave most of the competition in the dust. Those abnormal performances had to be frustrating for Long. Not performing up to the super high standard she’s set, as well as having friends and teammates questioning: “What’s wrong? Her mother Cindy said she was having excellent workouts, but just didn’t have it in recent races. Long said she had become abnormally fatigued late in races.
Long talked about the experience: and said “Yeah it was very frustrating. I kind of lost a little bit of confidence in myself, because I was having some iron issues and that was effecting the end of my races.”
After her third place Hancock finish, Long saw a doctor and who diagnosed her with high iron levels. An odd occurrence, as low iron levels can be a common problem for distance runners. Long said the medical staff said high iron levels can have the same effect as low levels. Long began treatment to correct the problem right away on Monday, September 30. Then on Saturday October 5th, saying later she was at about 80-90%, Long captured the Great American Cross Country Festival’s Race of Champions title in Cary, North Carolina. Long finished second in last year’s race in one of the premier meets for high school competition during the regular season. Apparently Hannah was back, and it showed Saturday.
Unlike Kauppila, Long blasted from the start line ahead of the field and never looked back. And all of the ladies in the field understood they were racing for second place. Long never let up. At the one kilometer mark Long was leading by 14 seconds. Just after the mile her lead increased to 26 seconds and at two miles it had stretched to 50 seconds. Midway through the race the rain began, not hard, but more than a sprinkle. That didn’t slow Long down.
At 2.7 miles she was so fast her coach nearly missed her. With a barb-wired fence and tree line running next to the course’s path along multiple sections, it sat in between the course at 2.3 and 2.7 miles. With Eureka Coach Kally Fischer standing on one side of the fence while yelling encouragement across it to her athletes running at the 2.4 mile mark, Long flew by, behind her a few steps, on the course at 2.7 miles. Fischer eventually turned around and reacted: “That a way H (Hannah)! Come on H! Go hard, go hard! H, a little more. Dig, dig, dig! Finish strong H!” And she did. Almost trying to prove she was back, and maybe better than ever, Long powered around the final few turns and down the finish stretch with long, strong strides and arms pumping. She crossed the finish in 17:17. It would be another 1:23 until last year’s State Class 4 sixth placer Sarah Nicholson would cross the line for second. Nicholson finished in 18:40.
Afterwards Long said she even felt better than the week before in North Carolina, adding: “This is a really nice flat course to go fast on, so that felt really good. I think I actually had a lot left in me in the end, so maybe I could have gotten out a little stronger. But that felt good to finish strong.”
The team competition was close throughout with Eureka and Lafayette battling until the end. Eureka lost two top-10 finishers to graduation from last year’s second place State Class 4 squad, while Lafayette lost a couple of pieces from its 2012 squad which finished sixth in Class 4. Hannah Pierson of defending champion Marquette edged Eureka’s Rachel Yergensen to the line for third place as the pair finished in 18:58 and 19:00. Eureka freshman Andra Staciu continues to impress week after week. Staciu went back and forth with Lafayette sophomore and 2012 All-Stater Anna West, who returned to competition for the first time in three weeks after being out with injury. Staciu had a strong last mile though and won the race for fifth in 19:11 while West was sixth in 19:22. Marquette sophomore Danielle Mohrmann was seventh before Lafayette’s Elise Larson-a Kansas transplant, and Grace Breiten-running her first varsity race since early in the season because of injury, finished eighth and ninth.
Eureka wrapped up the team title with putting 4-6 runners in 10th, 13th, and 14th. Eureka senior Eilish Overby, a member of the Wildcats 4×800 meter track State Champion squad, was the 10th placer and like Staciu appears to improve every week. Those two will need to continue to do so down the stretch if the team wants to be in the hunt for another state trophy and possibly state title. Eureka totaled 33 points for first while Lafayette had seven in the top 20 and totaled 42 for second. Marquette was third with 83 points as senior Shelby Hummel added a 12th place finish to give the Mustangs three All-Conference finishers. Lindbergh was fourth in the race which had eight full teams and a ninth partial squad. Oakville senior All-Stater Melissa Brown didn’t race but was in attendance. A teammate said she was overcoming illness.
Lafayette coach Scott Brandon was happy with his teams finish after a runner-up finish to Rock Bridge at the previous Saturday’s Parkway West Meet and nearly the end of the school’s homecoming week festivities. “I was very pleased with how we performed today. We had a great meet last week, and sometimes there’s a little bit of a letdown, so I was really happy to see the kids go in and run as well as they did.” He hoped his girls would have a good memory of the meet as well as all of the homecoming activities because “…they should be very proud of what they did.”
About the close competition between the two talented Rockwood School District teams of Eureka and Lafayette, Brandon said: “It’s going to make things fun as we go through districts and sectionals. Knock on wood nobody gets hurt from either team. (Especially when) we make it down (to State) and meet up with everybody else. Obviously we have to get there, but I’m really looking forward to a month from now to the state meet, it should be a lot of run.”
Indeed it will. And hopefully most had fun Saturday, and realized what great individual talent and team competition was on display.
Varsity Girls 5k – 2013 STL Suburban West Conf XC Champs
Hannah Long on Great American CCF win, Iron issues, & Gatorade POY honors
Hannah Long 1st as Eureka wins 2013 SWC XC title
Kansas to Missouri: Longer Climb
Lafayette’s Wichita, Ks transfer Elise Larson appears to have so far successfully overcome a couple of new obstacles now that she trains in Wildwood and competes in Missouri. Larson not only has to race an extra kilometer, as 4k is the high school girls standard in Kansas, but she also has to run up and down hills, which aren’t abundant or even rare in Missouri’s neighbor to the West. But be aware Elise: Just as you finish the most famous hill in Missouri high school cross country, you have another 1000 meters to go at the Missouri State Meet course at Oak Hills Golf Center at Hough Park in Jefferson City.