Coach Kevin John’s Parkway West boys cross country Longhorns finally got to stretch their legs in something that counts.
The Longhorns didn’t get a chance to run in the Parkway Quad. The season-opening meet was rained out.
“The season has been going well,” John said. “Our kids have been training hard and staying excited, but it was nice to finally get a real 5K race in.”
They finally got the opportunity to compete in the Stan Nelson Invitational hosted by Northwest High. A total of 16 teams competed in the event. Parkway West won with 66 points. Marquette came in second with 71 and Webster Groves was third with 87.
The Longhorns now have won three of the last 4 Nelson races. The wins came in 2016, 2017 and this year.
” We love going to the Stan Nelson meet because it is a good challenge early in the season,” John said. “We know there will always be several good teams there, and this year was no different. It was nice to test ourselves against Marquette, Webster, Lindbergh and Kirkwood. They are all good programs, and competing with them lets us see where we are at early on.”
He believed his Longhorns would show they were ready to show what they could do.
“My expectations were to see them compete smart and hard and just see where we stack up,” John said. “It was our first 5K of the season, and I think some others schools as well, so the goal really is just to get out there and compete and get the first race out of the way. Now we see the things we need to improve on going forward.”
” It was a good team win because Marquette is really good as are the other schools. The difference for us was our depth, which is good to see. Our fifth and sixth runners had pretty good days.”
Junior Thomas Anderson led the way for Parkway West with a fifth-place finish. His time was 16 minutes, 29.39 seconds.
“This was a good time for him, as it was only 5 seconds off of his best time last season,” John said. “That is great in his first race this year. He put in a good summer, and we have high hopes for him the rest of the season.”
Parkway West has two other finishes in the top 15. Ryan Caton came in 11th place with 16:49.90. Dawson Ren finished in 14th place at 16:59.17.
“Ryan and Dawson are both seniors. I was really happy with their performances,” John said. “They did a ton of work this summer to try to reach another level this season, and this was a good start. They both ran PR’s (personal records) on Saturday. I am thrilled with their progress. The times did not surprise me, because I have seen what they are doing in practice every day. We also had a time trial where they each ran a PR, so I knew they were ready. ”
Vincent Malpocker was the fourth Longhorn. He finished 19th in 17:12.
“He is one of our better racers, and he stepped up for us again on Saturday,” John said. “I am so impressed with his perseverance after a long road back from an injury.”
Caleb Levy was 22nd in 17:14.
“He has shown some signs of talent, but is really breaking out this season and starting to believe in what he is capable of,” John said. “His growth has been a big boost for the team.”
Jonah Yates was 38th in 17:34.
“He had a great finish to pass a few guys at the end,” John said.
Calvin Kellogg was 44th in 17:47.
“This was his first varsity race in cross country and I believe he learned a lot,” John said. “He has always been a gamer for us. I thought he did a nice job on Saturday.”
John liked how his squad reacted to winning the meet. They know there is the rest of the season to be run.
“They were a little surprised to hear they won, but it was a pleasant surprise,” John said. “They thought it was cool and I think it was a confidence booster that the training is paying off. Overall, it was not a real big reaction, as these guys are smart and mature and realize we have work to do still.”
Still, claiming first place in a good meet can do nothing but help this squad’s confidence going forward.
“I think winning the meet gives us confidence that we are doing the right things,” John said. “It is fun for the kids after a long summer of training and several weeks this season without a meet. I think it gives us a boost in morale and a push to keep training hard and stay focused on our goals.”
Coming up Saturday will be the Paul Enke Invitational at Sioux Passage. The Longhorns finished third last fall in the event.
Then after a break, Parkway West will have its home meet — the Dale Shepherd Invitational on Oct. 5. That will be followed by the All Suburban Conference Championships on Oct. 12. at McNair Park in St. Charles.
“After that, we are into the postseason,” John said.