Sep. 17—The area's largest annual cross country race boasted nearly 3,000 runners on a hot Saturday morning.
And the 33rd running of the Missouri Southern Stampede allowed many immediate area squads an opportunity to see where they stack up against the elite of the elite from several different states in the Midwest.
Among large school teams competing in the Stampede at Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course were Joplin, Webb City, Neosho, Carthage and Carl Junction.
Local contingent in the small school division were McAuley Catholic and Thomas Jefferson.
Joplin girls had the highest local finish, placing fifth with a team score of 201 in the Gold Division. The Eagles opted to be one of many larger schools to run in the small school race to even out the number of runners.
Joplin was paced by Allie Keizer, who finished fourth out of 166 runners in 20 minutes, 18 seconds. Teammate Averi Burks placed 23rd with a time of 21:38. Also competing for the Eagles were Mairi Bernaek (62nd), Cylee Gilreath (73rd), Meridyth Mai (86th), Isabella Cruse (92nd) and Masyn Briggs (94th).
"Allie Keizer ran pretty well today," Joplin coach Dustin Dixon said. "To even out the races, the university had asked some large schools if they were willing to run in the small school division. I took them up on that opportunity to give us a little more space because the races were crowded.
"The boys started four times today and it started four times because they put too many people in the race. The kids tripped over each other. We told the kids (Friday) we don't make a big deal about the Southern Stampede because some kids run well, but there are so many challenges here with the amount of kids in the race and it's way too hot to run. Given those things, we did OK today."
On the boys side, Joplin had some noteworthy finishes in the Green Division. The Eagles' top finisher was Hobbs Campell, who made history on Saturday. The multi-sport standout took third with a new school record of 15:24. Campbell held the previous mark of 15:39.
Campbell's teammate, Ian Horton, placed sixth in 15:42. He was just three seconds away from tying Campbell's old school record.
Chance Tindall finished 18th for Joplin with a time of 16:08. Also competing for the Eagles was Parker Durham (116th), Aidan Koch (230th), Brady Honeycutt (283rd) and Grey Edwards (334th).
There were nearly 350 runners in the Green Division race.
"Hobbs Campbell broke the school record again. He was the previous school record holder," Dixon said. "Our No. 2 man (Ian Horton) is a junior and almost broke the school record that Hobbs set last year. We have a sophomore (Chance Tindall) that ran a 16:08. The wheels kind of fell off after that. Our No. 4 collapsed a couple of 100 meters before the finish line. Our No. 5 (Parker Durham) had a good race today. He's a junior and PR'd today. He ran pretty well. The freshman at the back did his best."
Dixon reiterated that the heat and number of runners in the race affected both his teams. But the ultimate goal remains intact.
"I feel very confident in our team and our ability," Dixon said. "Our boys have been very intentional about defending the Central Ozark Conference championship this year. I'm sure Nixa beat us today, but we are well on our way to defending that title. I'm proud of the way we ran today.
"Goodness, we had three kids run top 10 times in Joplin High School history in this race alone. The fastest kid in Joplin school history, the second fastest kid in Joplin school history and maybe the seventh fastest kid in Joplin school history are all on this team. It's a pretty darn good team."
The Cardinals had standout individual showings on the boys and girls sides. Both competed in the Green Division races.
Abigail Street placed third with a time of 18:39 on the girls side. On the boys side, Evan Stevens took fourth with a finish of 15:38.
"I'm proud of Evan and Abi," Webb City coach Dustin Miller said. "They have been training hard all summer and fall so far. To watch them go out and compete at the front of an elite race was a lot of fun."
Miller noted the Southern Stampede was a good experience for both his top runners.
"For Abi, she ran completely alone in her first two races," Miller said. "She's raced against some quality girls, but she's just at another level this year. She still doesn't know how to empty the tank yet, so it was good to have girls in front of her and make her realize that she has more in the tank and she could have moved up some.
"For Evan, he doesn't know how good he is yet. But now he sees. Hole smokes, I was right there with the elite of the elite in the state of Missouri. For them to prove that and see what it's like, even with our varsity boys with not much experience, was awesome. Our varsity girls the same thing: very inexperienced, young group. They didn't let the moment be too big for them. I was very proud of the way we competed today."
The Cavaliers were highlighted by a strong showing from Kip Atteberry. One of the state's top runners in Class 1, Atteberry paced TJ with an 11th place finish out of 209 runners in the Gold Division.
The senior had a finishing time of 17:11.
"He's been training really hard this summer," Thomas Jefferson coach Clayton Carnahan said. "At the two-mile mark, I think his time was like 10:11. Even though his time was so much better at the state meet last year, I think he sees how truly well he can do this year. It was a little bit of an off day for him, but he had a great performance. I'm proud of all of them and how they did today."
OTHER LOCAL SCHOOLS
Neosho, Carl Junction and Carthage had noteworthy finishes.
Chloe Wood headlined the Wildcats with a 56th place finish in 20:22. On the boys side, Eddy Fuentes was Carthage's top overall finisher in 86th with a time of 17:17. Back to the girls side, Carl Junction's Alexis Carpenter took 136th in 21:43.
On the small school side, McAuley was led by Kendall Ramsey, who took 53rd with a time of 22:56. Also with a strong showing for the Warriors was Joe Staton with an 81st place finish in 19:26 on the boys side.