By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Matt Riechman-Bennett of Joplin qualified for the Class 4 Missouri Cross Country Championships on Saturday at the Sectional 3 meet at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton.
Riechman-Bennett, a junior, placed 14th with a time of 16 minutes, 12 seconds. The top 30 runners, including team qualifiers, advance to the state meet.
Other area qualifiers were Garrett Wood of Neosho, a senior who placed 20th in 16:27, and Ben Southwick of Carthage, who was 29th in 16:38.
“Normally, he (Riechman-Bennett) finishes ahead of the Republic kid and the No. 1 West Plains kid,” said Joplin head coach Jason Riddle. “He’ll be back to where he needs to be by state.”
Ryan Way of Republic was eighth and Alex Medina of West Plains was 12th. Chris Mooneyham of Glendale won the meet in 15:24.
Two Webb City runners qualified for the girls’ state meet. Natalie Capron, a junior who became a three-time state qualifier, was 17th in 19:31, and Kelsey Andro, a freshman, was 24th in 20:05.
“We couldn’t ask for any more. They had a great race,” said Webb City head coach Justin Beattie. “They got out well and moved up continually through the race. Kelsey, in the first mile, was 39th, but she just toughed it out.
“Natalie deserves some credit for helping Kelsey. She helped calm her nerves, so she showed a lot of leadership.”
Nicole Mello of Columbia Hickman won the girls’ division in 17:53.
McDonald County in Class 3 and Lamar in Class 2 qualified as teams for both the boys and girls state meets.
Caleb Littlefield led McDonald County’s boys to the team championship by winning the District 6 meet at Bolivar in 16:59. The Mustangs’ girls, led by a sixth-place finish by Faith Owens, placed second to Bolivar.
Lamar blitzed the District 7 boys meet at Holden by placing six runners in the top 13. Drew Buckner, a senior, placed second in leading Lamar to the district title. The Tigers’ girls were runners-up to Stockton, led by freshman Kaelyn Sturgell, who placed fifth.
Ryan Beaver of College Heights won the Class 2 District 5 meet at Springfield in 16:37. Kolleen Gladden led the Cougars’ girls with a fifth-place finish.
East Newton’s girls qualified for the state meet by placing second behind Springfield Catholic. Emily Sorrell placed third, just behind Meghan Hatfield of Seneca, who was second.
In Class 1, Chase Burns placed fourth in the District 5 meet at Springfield and led Wheaton’s girls to the district title. Jonathan Sherwood of Wheaton placed sixth in the boys’ division.
In the District 6 meet at Bolivar, Chris Saladin of Thomas Jefferson placed second with a time of 17:34.