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Holden Cross Country Runners Find Success At MRVC-East Meet

Cross Country Conference Trophy Winners… The Holden Eagles boys cross country team brought home the second-place team trophy from the MRVC-East Meet held at Richmond High School on Wednesday, October 20. Pictured are the team members with their trophy, left to right, Jackson Treece, Ethan Rice, Brian Johnson, Lukas Hunt, Zach Willis, Michael Rinella, and Rett Hankins.  Photo by Steve Edwards

Led by a first-place individual champion finish from junior runner Zach Willis, the Holden boys cross country team placed second as a squad at the MRVC-East Cross Country Meet at Richmond High School on Wednesday, October 20.

Lone Lady Eagles runner Ava Young earned an all-conference top-10 medal finish in the girls race as boys runners Willis, freshman Rett Hankins, and senior Michael Rinella also brought home all-conference hardware from the meet.

“We had four all-conference runners,” highlighted Holden cross country head coach Dale Wescott. “That was definitely a good thing to see. “The guys laid it on the line. Last year we placed fifth. Last year we didn’t have any medalists.”

Willis enters the record books by becoming Holden’s first-ever MRVC-East individual champion performer.

The number-one runner for the Holden boys team clocked a time of 18:27 in the race that featured a field of 33 finishers.

MRVC-West runner Drew Balardo was the only runner to place in front of Willis as the East and West races were held together with times and placings sorted out for each afterward.

Belardo took the West title as Willis grabbed the East gold medal.

Lexington runner Alexander Worthing placed second in the MRVC-East race, five seconds behind Willis as the Minutemen would take the first-place team title. “My plan going in was to stay with the guy from Warrensburg because I knew he was going to get out fast, but ultimately, it was to beat the Lexington guy and take first,” said Willis after the race. “It’s a big feat that he is conference champion,” said coach Wescott. “He has come a long way this season.”

Hankins timed out at 19:34 for a seventh-place finish at the conference meet. “It’s just another really good step in his first year,” said coach Wescott. “It’s awesome to have a freshman medal. It’s good to have someone we can count on for three more years.”

Rinella collected the first all-conference medal of his four-year career by placing 10th in a time of 20:10. Rinella finished 15 seconds ahead of Tradjun Moss from the Lexington team. “The plan was to get top-10, so I could get all-conference for the first time,” said Rinella. “It was difficult that second lap, but luckily, I passed that one Lexington guy to get 10th. “It feels amazing to have all these guys get second place, and try their best,” added Rinella who was a sophomore when the Eagles boys team won its first-ever MRVC-East team trophy, also in a second-place finish.

Four-year senior team member Brian Johnson placed 17th at last Wednesday’s conference with a time of 20:54. “We’re going to count on Michael and Brian at district,” noted coach Wescott. Also helping the boys team win its trophy finish at the meet were freshman Ethan Rice who placed 20th, sophomore Lukas Hunt who placed 25th, and freshman Jackson Treece who turned in a 27th-place finish. “It feels good,” said Willis of the Eagles boys team earning a team trophy. “It’s one of my goals for the season, but we’re not done yet. I’m looking forward to districts.”

In the girls’ race, Young placed fifth in the field of 18 finishers by clocking a time of 23:57. “Ava had a great race,” said coach Wescott. “It’s another good stepping stone, and it’s good to have her for three more years.”

MRVC Note: The Missouri River Valley Conference split the conference cross country race into East and West divisions beginning in the 2017 season after years of both sides of the conference competing against one another…

The Lady Eagles cross country team won the inaugural MRVC-East girls race in 2017 after having won the MRVC Meet the year before…

Lady Eagles Alice Evans, Camille Gudde, Valorie Slack, Kinadie Jones, and Lexi Watkins swept the top-five individual spots to earn all-conference medals at the MRVC-East Meet in 2017…

Eagles boys runner Hunter Tevis placed sixth at the 2017 MRVC-East Meet to earn all-conference recognition as the boys team placed third….

The Lady Eagles would repeat as MRVC-East cross country champions in 2018…

In 2019, the Eagles boys cross country team won its first-ever MRVC-East team trophy with a second-place team finish to match the Lady Eagles’ second-place finish that year.

St. Mary’s Fall Classic Results In a final tune-up before the Class 3, District 4 Meet, the Holden cross country runners competed at the St. Mary’s Fall Classic at St. Michael the Archangel High School on Saturday, October 23. Eagles runner Zach Willis placed third on the day in a time of 18:10.

Michael Rinella placed 14th in the field of 58 finishers.

Rett Hankins placed 16th, Ethan Rice placed 34th, Lukas Hunt placed 42nd, and Jackson Treece placed 45th. Lady Eagles runner Ava Young placed 11th among 30 finishers by clocking a time of 23:46.

The Holden cross country runners compete at the Class 3, District 4 Meet this Saturday, October 30.

The district meet will be held on the Missouri Western State University campus with the girls race starting at 12:30 p.m., and the boys race beginning at 1:05.

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