By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
McDonald County and Lamar will be fully represented at the MSHSAA Boys and Girls Cross Country Championships today at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.
McDonald County’s boys and girls squads will compete for state honors beginning with the first race of the day when the Class 3 girls run at 9 a.m.
McDonald County’s boys, led by Caleb Littlefield, won the team championship last week at the Class 3 district meet in Bolivar.
“Caleb’s looking for a top 10 finish,” Mustangs head coach Darbi Stancell said Friday night.
Littlefield, a senior, is a three-time state qualifier and won the district meet in 16 minutes, 59 seconds. Teammates Connor Hackworth and Connor Underwood also placed in the top 10, followed by Randall Buckner, Wade Schmit, James Walker and Jacob Walker.
McDonald County’s girls, who are making their third consecutive appearance at the state meet, qualified with a runner-up finish at the district meet.
Faith Owens led the Mustangs by placing sixth, and she will be joined by Yessy Domingues, Kylie Littlefield, Emily High, Dakota Bunch, Cendy Garcia and Makala Stephens.
“Faith (a freshman) is a new runner and she has a shot at a state medal, so her goal is the top 25,” Stancell said.
“As long as we get warmed up good, I think it will be great weather for racing,” she said. “Bolivar’s course is not easy. Some of them PR’d (set a personal record) last week and it wasn’t an easy course, so hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
Carl Junction in Class 3 will be represented by JeLynn Tatum in the girls race and Devin Corbin in the boys meet.
Matt Riechman-Bennett of Joplin, Garrett Wood of Neosho and Ben Southwick of Carthage qualified in Class 4, along with girls qualifiers Natalie Capron and Kelsey Andro of Webb City.
Lamar in Class 2 duplicated McDonald County’s achievement by winning the boys’ district meet at Holden and placing second in the girls division.
Four Lamar runners placed in the top 10, led by Drew Buckner’s second-place finish in 17:04. The rest of Lamar’s unit is comprised of Kaden Overstreet, Zachary Ray, Nicholas Ray, Zane Hull, Logan Sheat and Chase Moore.
“Fatima and Herculaneum probably are the two biggest competitors for us,” said Lamar head coach Rodney Baldridge. “We’ve concentrated on doing a lot of hill work this year just because of the course at Jefferson City.”
Buckner placed 28th last year and led Lamar to ninth in the team standings in the Tigers’ first trip to the state meet.
Lamar’s girls were led at the district meet by Kaelyn Sturgell, who placed fifth, followed by Sarah Davis, Josie Kaderly, Hannah Moyer, Claudia Carter, Tai Thrasher and Victoria Carter.
Lamar’s girls are making their first appearance as a team at the state meet. Davis, a senior, placed 50th a year ago.
East Newton’s girls were runners up in the Class 2 district meet at Springfield with a team of Emily Sorrell, Abby Burris, Caitlin Mann, Dana Palmer and Dusti Nabors.
College Heights will be represented by district champion Ryan Beaver in Class 2 boys and Kolleen Gladden in the girls’ race.
In Class 1, Chris Saladin and Austin Burns will represent Thomas Jefferson in the boys’ division. Jasper qualified its girls team of Monica Steeves, Kamryn Stump, Haley Bennett, Elizabeth Maneval and Hannah Jensen.
Wheaton’s girls qualified by winning the Class 1 district meet at Springfield with a team of Chase Burns, Brittany Harmon, Haley Beck, Anastasia Lowry and Krista Dunegan.