Camdenton junior Garrett Mason was the first Laker to set foot on the state course in Jefferson City since 2012 on Saturday.

The junior made his way to the starting line with 159 other runners in the Class 4 race, Missouri’s largest class, and earned 120th with a time of 17:31 on the 3.1 mile course. After quickly being surrounded by a host of family, friends, coaches and teammates moments after crossing the finish line, Mason took some time to reflect on his first trip to the state meet.

“It was pretty great. A ton of people here so that is always nice and the course was nice with great weather. All around, it was just a good race with good competition,” Mason said of the biggest race of the year. “I felt really good bringing us back to state as we have not been there for a while and hopefully I can get here next year.”

If Mason should be fortunate to make it back to the state meet in 2018, the experience he gained on Saturday will certainly help to improve his placement, knowing more of what to expect. After all, he made significant improvements in the sectional race from a season ago, running a personal record time of 16:37 on his home course at Ha Ha Tonka State Park to make it to state in the first place.

“I did not want to start out too fast because there were a lot of hills later in the race so I saved some energy at the beginning,” Mason said of his strategy. “At the end, I just kind of used that energy I saved to power through the hills and pass a few people because a lot of people start off too fast in this race.”

The lessons learned will be valuable going forward, but Mason is also looking forward to getting back to work in preparation for 2018.

“I’ll just be practicing in the offseason after school during the winter. Then track will come a long and that will help me with speed and we also do a few runs over the summer,” he pointed out.

Time will soon tell if those offseason efforts will pay off as he looks to put together a solid senior season for Camdenton.