Eldon and Versailles pick up All-Conference honors

The day belonged to School of the Osage.

Eldon hosted the Indians, Versailles and the rest of the Tri-County Conference for a meet at Mustang Memorial Park on Thursday evening and the Osage boys and girls both earned the right to be called conference champions. 

"It was good to see both teams up there on the podium. They work hard together and are obviously separate in their abilities and talents," Osage coach Miriam Hill noted. "But yet to come together as a team, both boys and girls together, and see them both take first is always fun." 

The Osage boys finished with 37 team points among the six conference schools who had enough runners to qualify for team competition. The Indians won so thoroughly that California had the next best finish with 71 points, respectively. Versailles finished fifth behind Blair Oaks (79) and Hallsville (115) and Eldon only had three runners on hand.

Osage's Chase Grosvenor led the pack with a time of 16:19 on the 3.1 mile course and it was a day the senior will likely never forget as he won his second straight individual title on the day of his birthday. He finished 12 seconds better than any other runner and was glad to see his teammates not too far behind him, either. 

"I remember turning around not long after I finished and there was another Osage, another Osage and another Osage before most teams even got their second runner through," Grosvenor said after four Indians finished in the top 10 amongst a field of 44. "That was really impressive."

John Markovitz was the next Indian across the finish line with a time of 16:53 while Harrison Adams placed eighth at 17:33, Kevin Sparks ninth at 17:35 and James Sparks 15th at 18:34 to wrap up the list of All-Conference runners reserved for the top 15. Ryan Page was 16th at 18:54 and nearly made the cut for conference honors as well.

Grosvenor was not leading the way after the first lap, but he soon turned on the afterburners to make sure he crossed the line first. He admittedly said he felt some pressure to repeat as conference champion and retain his title.

"I was just kind of settling into a pace," he recalled. "My first mile was almost a 5-flat (minutes) so I was running pretty fast. I just started to get a little worried about the kids out in front of me and had to get focused and get going."

The Osage girls did not waste very much time, either. Sarah Porter finished second in the field for the Indians amongst 37 runners with a time of 20:22 that was just a bit behind conference champion Kati Schoeneberg of Blair Oaks who came in at 20:09. Teammate Bayley Johnson was right behind her finishing third at 20:40 while Sara Wolf was fifth at 21:11, Nevaeh Henley eighth at 21:42, Grace Martin 15th at 22:52, Madison Kessler 18th at 23:17 and Campbell Walters 22nd at 23:52. 

Porter said the team simply went out on the course with a selfless mindset and that no matter how anyone felt individually, whether they were cruising or drawing for breath, the team always came first. 

"At the end of the day we wanted to be conference champs so you have to go out there and do it for the team whenever you are struggling," she pointed out. "That was really what was in my head.

"Grace was our fifth runner today and had a 2-minute 'PR' (personal record). She kicked it in," Porter continued. "All of our girls kicked it in today and it is amazing to see what all we can do whenever we work together. It was a really good day."

Osage was one of four teams on the course and finished with 33 points ahead of Blair Oaks (60), Eldon (88) and Boonville (119). 

Seeing all of the Osage runners near the top, Hill said it was a reflection of how both the girls and boys practice. There may be times when an Indian is struggling, but they are never alone as there is a teammate to pick them up and push them forward. 

"It was really good to see each of them push each other, but what was more exciting to see is how happy they were fo reach other and the 'PRs' they ran today," the coach said. 

Osage was not the only Lake area team to find success on Thursday. The Eldon girls had a pair of All-Conference runners in Emily Guthrie who finished ninth at 21:51 and Kelsey Wallis who took 12th at 22:20. Karmen McNeil finished 17th at 23:07, Vivian Webster 24th at 24:19, Addison Gerber 26th at 25:04, Anna Herbert 30th at 26:03, Kenzi Bustamante 32nd at 28:10 and Madison McGinnis 33rd at 30:13. 

As for the boys, Caleb Martonfi earned seventh to earn All-Conference honors at 17:32 while Jacob Arnold captured 38th at 21:33 and Matthew Pollett finished 43rd at 23:04. 

"They looked strong today, all of them," Eldon coach Kay Reed stated. "It was just really fun to watch them because we had a lot of 'PRs', shaved a lot of time and it is just fun to watch them on their home course." 

Eldon has hosted the conference meet for a number of years and it is a meet Reed does not mind hosting, especially a night like THursday where the weather was nice as well. 

"Everyone did a great job pushing each other and it is always great to see other teams encouraging each other," the coach noted. "That is my favorite thing about cross country is that it is a family atmosphere and we all cheer for each other no matter what. We appreciate everyone coming out and the community involvement. We have a lot of helpers and volunteers come out and give us their time and we appreciate that."

Versailles came away with an All-Conference runners as well as Seth Newton led the Tiger boys with a 14th place finish at 18:31. According to Versailles coach Lauria Piercy, the time beats his personal record from last season by 45 seconds and his season best by a minute and 30 seconds.

Noah Dykzeul captured 22nd for Versailles at 19:32, William Taylor was 26th at 19:48, Dagan Haggerman was 29th at 20:03, Jacob Schrock was 30th at 20:09 and Trent Hyman finished 37th at 21:27. Meanwhile, Carmen Lemell was the lone girl on the course for the Tigers and she finished 21st at 23:40. 

"Our varsity runners ran well. Almost all of our runners ran a season's best at the meet with a few running their personal best," Versailles coach Laura Piercy said. "I hope we are peaking at the right time."

Osage will have some time now to prepare for districts the next two weeks before the start of the postseason at Linn on November 2. Eldon will race at Mexico on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Versailles will be in the Vienna Autumn Classic on Monday