JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Stephen Pursley was embedded within a pack of eight runners separated by two seconds on the steep final hill, and emerged with his first cross country state medal.
The Arcadia Valley sophomore clocked a time of 17:41 and placed 25th for the last spot on the all-state podium during the Class 2 boys meet Saturday morning at Oak Hill Golf Center.
Saxony Lutheran junior Caleb Cornelius (16:22) dominated by 25 seconds for the individual title. Pursley surged up the leaderboard in comparison to last November when he took 81st place.
Tigers teammate Peyton Whited was the lone MAAA conference runner making a third appearance in the premier 5-kilometer event, and covered the course in 18:05 to finish 44th.
Potosi sent two girls and two boys into Class 3 state competition. Sophomore Kaylee Heeter (21:12) topped her place from last season by 35 positions in 50th, and Bree Allgier (22:01) ran 92nd.
Sophomore Brett Lynch (17:18) finished 33rd and junior Darren Reese (17:46) was 58th for the Trojans. Both were making their initial state appearances.
Ste. Genevieve junior and two-time medalist Sarah Moore earned a bid to her third state race in Class 3, but withdrew from competition due to a recurring foot injury.
The Dragons were represented by junior Camden Sadler (17:27) into the boys race, and he grabbed 40th place after getting 43rd last fall.
Valle Catholic qualified its entire girls team for the Class 1 finale, and finished ninth while West Platte edged New Haven 104-109 for the championship.
Freshman Nicole Valle paced seven Lady Warriors in the race with a time of 22:05 to collect her first all-state medal in 20th place.
Madison Otte (22:43) finished 32nd – 11 spots higher than last year – and Mary Roth (23:34) was 57th for Valle Catholic. St. Paul Lutheran senior Sarah Lacy (23:30) ended her state debut in 53rd position.
Senior Gabe Ayers of St. Paul competed in his second state competition, and improved drastically from 97th place to 40th overall with a mark of 18:28.
The inaugural cross country season at West County produced one state qualifier, and freshman Kara Hovick (23:13) finished 94th among Class 2 girls.
Another freshman, Erica Standefer (23:52) was 113th in that race for Arcadia Valley.
Farmington senior Jacob Oyler (17:11) reached Jefferson City for the first time, and finished 92nd among Class 4 boys.