Host Lafayette boys and girls rule at Randy Seagrist Invitational
Monday, September 1, 2014
The Lafayette Lancers hosted the second-ever Randy Seagrist Invitational Saturday, in honor of the former Lancers boys cross country coach who still volunteers for the thriving program. The second version of the meet was held at venerable Jefferson Barracks Park in St. Louis County, after the inaugural was held closer to Lafayette’s Wildwood campus, at Castlewood State Park last year.
The meet opened with a freshman boys and girls 3-kilometer race, before featuring 5k varsity and junior varsity races. The meet was delayed as spectator cars were reportedly parked on the course. Once action got started, fans were treated to some fine individual and team performances. As the final day of racing closed out the opening week of competition for the Missouri high school cross country season, mother nature showed one last show of force, as she had all week, effecting meets each of the last four days.
Host Lafayette’s 2013 squads each earned third-place trophies at last year’s state championship meet in class four, and Saturday showed why they might be the early favorites to take home first place at the state meet this year.
Head Coach Sean O’Connor has quickly lead the Lafayette boys program to a new level as a perennial power, as the Lancers have captured two straight Class 4 third-place finishes, and the Lancers are filled with young talent, with just one senior in their top-seven. The team features junior star Dylan Quisenberry who finished 8th at state last fall, ran a 4:11 1600-meters in the spring as well as taking the class four 800-meter title, was runner-up in the 1600 and led the Lancers to a runner-up finish in the 4×800. The Lancers captured the second-place team trophy on the track in Class four for head coach Matt Warren, who is a cross country assistant. So things couldn’t be much better for the Lancers, but after Saturday, it looks like they just might this fall.
With many other season-opening meets holding 2-mile races, the Randy Seagrist meet keeps with the 5-kilometer distances for all races but the freshman 3k. Eight boys teams took up the challenge in the varsity race, while five girls squads showing up. While the meet was a season-opening week meet, it was the second race in four days for the Timberland boys, who ran the two-mile race at the Fleet Feet Kick-off Classic at Wentzville’s Quail Ridge Park on Wednesday.
From early on in the Varsity boys race it was Lafayette juniors Dylan Quisenberry and Alec Haines leading the pace. At 1.3 miles, it was evident Lafayette and SLUH would battle for team victory. Joe Porter’s SLUH squad is the two-time defending class four state champions who lost two seniors from last year’s state team, but ran two of their three returning all-staters Saturday, and who seemingly never play their full deck of cards until state. Lafayette’s Quisenberry was a step ahead of Haines, who was a step ahead of SLUH’s Joe Butler, and two steps ahead of SLUH’s Dustan Davidson. A few strides back, were Lafayette’s Devin Meyrer and Austin Hindman, while SLUH’s Matt Hennessey trailed by a few more strides. Eureka’s Jerod Broadbooks was eighth, while another SLUH duo was just behind. The team battle was on, but not for long.
Quisenberry and Haines added ground over the remainder of the second mile, and by the time they popped out of the woods and over the small hill around the two-mile mark, their lead was secure. Quisenberry cruised home for the victory in an impressive 16:47 season opener on a hilly course. Haines crossed nine-seconds back in 16:58 while fellow junior Devin Meyrer and sophomore Austin Hindman strode up the long hill to the finish soon after for a 1-2-3-4 Lancer finish, Meyrer and Hindman clocked in at 17:08 and 17:10. SLUH’s Matt Hennessey had the strongest second half of the race for the Junior Billikens as he took 5th in 17:13, while Eureka’s Boadbooks was sixth in 17:18.
After his fourth-place finish at the Fleet Feet meet Wednesday, Timberland junior Austin Crowe took seventh. 2013 all-staters and SLUH seniors Thomas Hogan and Jack Sullivan were eighth and nine but Lafayette senior Josiah McElmurry sealed the team win for the Lancers with his 10th place finish. SLUH’s Butler and Davidson took 11th and 15th while Jack Gallagher was the Bill’s fifth scorer at 17th. SLUH’s top 2013 finisher Shayn Jackson and third all-stater did not race, but Lafayette was so strong that it would not have made a difference in the team standings if he did.
Lafayette totaled just 20 points, while SLUH scored 48, halving third-placer Parkway West’s 96 total, while Timberland edged Eureka for the final top-half finishing spot, 121 points to 131.
Afterwards, winner Quisenberry talked about the Lancers day, “We were all very pleased with our performances, there was nothing else we could have asked for. We had a lot of motivation, we wanted to beat SLUH from the start. We came out hard and strong and we’re very happy with our performance today.” Alec Haines was equally happy, “…we went 1, 2, 3, 4, so that’s really good, with Devin and Austin behind us.”
Looking forward the pair have plenty of goals to accomplish. Haines said “I wasn’t all-state for cross country last year, so I want to do that this year, and as a team – we really want to be better than third place. We’re still young too, we have just one senior in our top seven. Quisenberry added, “We’re feeling pretty good about this season. After last year getting so close to victory, in cross country it was there, and it was taken away. That’s like the worst feeling ever, knowing it was a mistake that we didn’t actually win. For track, second place, gosh! it’s like so close to tasting victory. So that’s our motivation, to get that, to get that victory and finally taste it.” The Lafayette boys look like they might just be on the path to doing that.
SLUH junior Billy Balossi won the JV race in 18:17 to lead the Junior Billikens to a close win over Lafayette 29-36 in the nine-team race.
The girls varsity race featured just five teams, and there was little question about who would come out on top. The Lafayette Lady Lancers 2013 squad edged Eureka on a tie-breaker to capture the third-place state trophy, not far behind Nerinx Hall and Francis Howell at the class four state meet last fall. The Lancers lost two seniors who ran at state, but had three sophomore all-staters and Coach Scott Brandon has plugged in the next girls in line to the varsity mix. The Lancers may have gone toe-to-toe with Francis Howell for the state title last fall if junior Elise Larson had a normal day. Unfortunately, the transfer from Wichita, Kansas, had an off day dealing with the heat and hills of the Oak Hills course and struggled across the finish line.
But Larson was back to form Saturday as Lafayette went 1-2-3, put five in the top eight, and scored just one more point than the Lancer boys, 21. It didn’t take long for Lafayette juniors Sarah Nicholson and Anna West to pull away from the field. The pair has earned All-State honors in each of their first-two seasons in cross country. Nicholson was sixth as a freshman in 2012 and improved to fourth last fall, while West; sister of former Lafayette All-Stater and Baylor University sophomore Jordan, was 24th as a freshman and 13th last year, matching her brother’s 2012 finish. Running runs in the West family as both of West’s parents ran for Bucknell University.
Nicholson and West had a 15-second lead at about 1200 meters. Larson and Parkway West’s Maddy Brown (3rd place Class 4 in 2013) and Natalie Rath followed alongside and behind. At about 1.3 miles, the lead had grown to 27-seconds for Nicholson and West who were side by side and running stride for stride in sync. Larson had pulled two-seconds ahead of Brown, while Rath was a few more seconds back. Around the 2.2 mile-mark, Nicholson had pulled three-strides ahead of West, though still stride for stride, just with a second or two gap.
A few minutes later Nicholson powered up the long finishing hill and across the finish in 19:31. West followed 11-seconds later. The pair bent over trying to catch their breath and soon after congratulated each other and hi-fived while speaking through broken words from their gasping. Just after they did, Larson came up over the hill and finished in 20:56. Maddy Brown took fourth and new teammate Rath was 5th. Washington High School freshman Mikayla Reed, who wore braces on both knees and whose short blonde hair flopped about with each stride, finished sixth. Lafayette’s 4th and 5th runners followed in seventh and eighth: Julia Romero-21:57 and Emma Riordan-22:02 to give the Lancers the victory. Grace Breiten, the third Lafayette All-Stater at the 2013 state meet didn’t appear to run and wasn’t in any of the results.
Parkway West was the runner-up with 44 points, while Washington was third, and Parkway South and Kirkwood totaled 104 points, with South edging Kirkwood for fourth by three spots on the sixth-runner tie-breaker.
The sky was overcast most of the morning with the sun breaking thru on and off. That was until the day’s final race, the girls junior varsity 5k. The sky had darkened, and soon after the starter’s pistol went off to start the race, the clouds opened up and the rain poured heavily for about 10-15 minutes. Many fans and teammates headed for shelter, while the JV girls got soaked. Washington freshman Morgan Holdmeyer didn’t appear to mind the soaking as she won the race by nearing a minute in 21:59, as Parkway West put six in the top 10 for the team victory.