After months of preparation, the RBHS cross country varsity teams prepare to compete at the state meet on Saturday, Nov. 3. The state meet pits the fastest individual runners and teams together for the largest and most aggressive race of the season. Hosted at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City, MO, the meet is the final race of the cross country season. The boys and girls varsity teams have made it through the elimination rounds of districts and sectionals in order to compete at state. Head Coach Neal Blackburn hopes that the varsity teams can achieve great performances for this important meet.
“My desire is to see the kids execute our racing plan in a manner that each athlete competing feels great about how they perform,” Blackburn said. “If these performances are good enough to earn extrinsic rewards, then outstanding, but walking away from the state championships knowing we left it on the course completely, will be our ultimate victory.”
The boys’ varsity had made a steady progression at the previous district and sectional meets. At districts, the team finished third with a score of 83 points. At sectionals, the Bruins finished second with a score of 69, narrowly beating Jefferson City High School by five points. The hilly sectional course at Cole County Park did not stop RBHS runners such as senior Mojuba Shonekan to give good performances. Shonekan finished 11th at sectionals and hopes that the comradery of the varsity boys will help them have a good race at state.
The girls’ varsity team has had an exceptional run at the previous meets, placing first place at both districts and sectionals with scores of 35 and 51 respectively. Freshman Mallory Gard, the top varsity runner for the girls’ team, finished 4th at districts and 5th at sectionals. With a varsity team filled with young talent, Gard is optimistic about the upcoming state meet.
“I really want us to do our best and push harder than we have in the past,” Gard said. “Placing at state would be unreal, but having all of us knowing we ran our best for ourselves and each other honestly is what I really want. We can’t control other teams and their growth but we can focus on doing our best.”
For the state meet, the runners hope to meet their goals and collaborate well. While placement is important to earning a low score, teamwork as opposed to individuality is the key factor in becoming dangerous competitors.
“I want everyone to meet their goals that they have set out to accomplish,” Shonekan said. “If we can do all these things, then that will help us finish as high as we possibly can as a team, if that’s being on the podium or not.”
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