The Lafayette Lancers are running back to state.
The boys cross country team finished first in the Class 4 Sectional 1 meet at Big Driver in Washington.
The Lancers won the sectional race with 47 points. The big victory came after Lafayette finished third in the District 2 meet the previous week.
The sectional victory surprised his team a little, Lafayette coach Sean O’Connor said.
“We did not expect to win, since both Kirkwood and SLUH, had beat us several times throughout the year,” O’Connor said. “They were happy of the result (at district) because of the quality of teams at the meet but they also knew they could do better.”
Three other teams also qualified for the state meet. Kirkwood came in second with 50 points. St. Louis University High was third with 72 and Marquette was fourth with 99.
The Class 4 state meet will be held at 10:10 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 3) at the Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.
In the district race, Kirkwood won with 54 points while SLUH was second with 71. Lafayette came in third at 72.
“I liked how we were closing the gap to both SLUH and Kirkwood but also knew that we could still improve,” O’Connor said. “(I wanted us to) Finish in the top three and continue closing the gap to the teams who beat us at district.”
“(I told them) To keep working hard and good things can happen.”
Good things did happen. The Lancers showed their determination and athletic ability by winning the sectional.
The course at Washington was good one for the sectional, O’Connor said.
“I do like the course. It’s a good mix of hills and flats,” O’Connor said. “I do think it suits our team because they have run some of the hardest courses in the area and are prepared for anything.
“It was awesome outside. About 50 degrees.”
The Lancers were led by Aiden Murphy. The junior finished fourth in 16 minutes, 40.16 seconds.
“(A) Great race for him,” O’Connor said.
Right behind Murphy in fifth place was senior Harrison Brown. Brown’s time was 16:44.97. In sixth place was senior Michael Nicholson. whose time was 16:50.09.
“Harrison was probably a bit disappointed with his place, but as I told him, you have to be awfully talented to be disappointed with fourth,” O’Connor said.
Junior Alex McMillen was 16th in 17:02.48.
“He has gotten much better each of the last three weeks, which has been a huge boost to the team,” O’Connor said.
Senior Michael Atteberry was 28th in 17:12.73.
“He also had a great day,” O’Connor said. “Michael, along with Alex, have really helped this team improve.”
Sophomore Eric Reed was 47th in 18:01.82 and senior Cole Johnson was 61st in 18:28.25.
“Both those guys competed and were awesome,” O’Connor said.
The sectional titles was the sixth in the past eight years for the Lancers.
The win by this squad was a good one, O’Connor said.
“I think it shows them that they can compete at the state level and that they have a chance to do something special,” O’Connor said.
This will be the last year for state to be held at Oak Hills Golf Center. The Missouri State High School Activities Association has awarded a site in Columbia to the next few years to hold the state meet.
“It will be sad to see it go but it is also exciting to see what the new course will be like,” O’Connor said.
Last year, Lafayette finished fifth in the state. O’Connor said he wants to see what this year’s squad can do.
“(I want them) To commit and go for it,” O’Connor said. “If we do that, then no matter what happens, we can hold our heads up high.”