Holden cross country runners Zach Willis, Rett Hankins, and Ava Young turned in state-qualifying top-30 finishes at the Class 3, District 4 Meet hosted by West Platte High School at Platte Ridge Park on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Willis, Hankins, and Young all are set to return to Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia for the Class 3 State Championships as two-time state qualifiers after competing in Columbia last season.
Willis in his senior season, and Hankins as a sophomore led the Holden boys cross country team to a ninth-place team finish among 16 full squads competing at Platte Ridge Park last Saturday.
After earning a spot at the state meet while competing as the lone Lady Eagle in her freshmen season, Young is set to close out her sophomore campaign at the state meet.
“The three people going to state all stepped up, and performed above expectations,” said Holden cross country head coach Dale Wescott. “I’m excited to see all three going back to state.”
Willis earned his second career all-district medal by placing sixth among the 115 finishers in the boys’ race. Willis clocked a time of 17:32.
“Zach, he took off…they all challenged themselves on the course,” said coach Wescott. “It was by far the most difficult course we ran on all year. Zach did what he always does.
“I thought we all stepped up, and ran really well. We fought in the middle of the pack,” stated coach Wescott.
Hankins timed out at 18:58 to place 27th to earn his second career all-district medal.
“He’s fought through sickness and injury all season, but he had a really good race,” said coach Wescott in regard to Hankins who entered the race ranked outside of the favored medal contenders. “He attacked the course early. It was a good day for him.”
Sophomore Ethan Rice ran as the Eagle boys’ number-three runner on the day at the district meet. Rice placed 53rd with a time of 20:07.
“Ethan Rice stepped up, and just missed his PR (personal record) on that difficult course,” noted coach Wescott. “You need to run your A race, and I thought he did.”
Sophomore Caleb Koehn placed 72nd with a time of 21:05 with sophomore Jackson Treece placing 86th in a time of 21:48.
Senior foreign exchange student Ruben Wiesmann placed 91st in a time of 22:09.
“It was enjoyable to have Ruben this year,” said coach Wescott. “He added a lot to the squad.”
Junior Lukas Hunt placed 109th with a time of 24:29 to close out the boys team’s showing at the district meet.
Young qualified for the second state meet of her career by placing 28th at the district meet with a time of 23:12.
Like Hankins, Young’s return to the state meet hung in the balance, and was gathered using an intent focus that pushed her to exceed her pre-race ranking.
“I thought Ava had a dog fight,” described coach Wescott. “She held a group of runners behind her off. If she had slowed up, she could have got bumped. She had a really gutsy race.”
Freshman Malea Brewington placed 45th in the field of 75 finishers in the girls race by posting a time of 24:28.
“She had a great year being all-conference, and just missing at district to medal,” said coach Wescott.
Willis, Hankins, and Young now advance to compete at the Cross Country State Championships at Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia this Saturday, Nov. 5. The Class 3 girls race begins at 11:15 a.m. The Class 3 boys race begins at 12 p.m.