Cross Country Roundup- Camdenton, Macks Creek and Climax Springs

MICHAEL LOSCH, Lake Sun Sports Editor
Camdenton's Cambrie Kowal in the Ozark Conference meet at Lake Springfield on Saturday, October 17.

Camdenton's Kowal earns All-Conference at Ozark Conference meet

Camdenton runners met the rest of the Ozark Conference on Saturday at Lake Springfield where the girls finished seventh among nine schools with 169 points and the boys placed ninth among 10 with 238 points.

A conference championship may not be coming back to Camdenton as the Kickapoo boys (35 points) and West Plains girls (23 points) claimed that hardware, but the Lakers did manage to secure a spot on the All-Conference team as Camdenton’s Cambrie Kowal made the cut by finishing 14th amongst a field of 59 runners. All-Conference honors are reserved for the top 14 runners in each division and Kowal’s finish allowed her to earn a spot on the second team.

“Great day on a tough course, arguably the toughest we’ll see this year, even with Cole County Park for districts looming over us,” Camdenton coach Lauren Moriearty said of the meet. “Cambrie set herself up in a great spot from the start. She was in the 10th to 15th lace range the first time I saw her after the start. I counted places and let her know where she was throughout the race and with about 800 meters to go she was racing alongside a Zizzer (West Plains) and they were alternating 13th and 14th place. They had a couple of Kickapoo girls they were working to catch, but Cam’s last 400 meters were extremely gutsy and it paid off.”

Kowal finished her race with a time of 22:20 to lead the Laker girls while Alexis Stroup placed 24th at 23:15, Kylie Doyle was 40th at 25:06, Georgi Carolus was 45th at 25:46, McKenna Demark was 46th at 26 minutes and Ava Canales was 54th 24th at 27:37.

"Alexis had a great day and I think she felt that, too. She really challenged herself on all of the ups and especially the downs," Moriearty said. "We did a lot of downhill running practice these last couple of weeks and she really latched on to that as something to better at and it showed today. She looked so strong throughout and I think she ended the day feeling really confident and strong. Every moment I saw Kylie there was a look of determination and she also really challenged herself on the ups and downs and showed some real strength today." 

Moriearty was also impressed with Carolus and Demark's efforts on the course, as well as the performance by Canales.

"Georgi had been out for our Laker Last Minute meet and our home meet for various, unavoidable reasons so she wasn't able to get in some of the faster times on flat courses like our other girls have, but she tied her personal record today which is a true testament to how much stronger she is," the coach noted. "This course is not forgiving and not a 'P.R.' course. I think McKenna had her best race today and she is a strong runner. I think courses like this actually bring out the best of her and she showed a ton of strength and stepped up for the team. Ava was frustrated but I have to remind her she's young and still developing race maturity and it takes time for that to show itself. We've thrown her into the gauntlet and she probably sees that as a lot of pressure, but she has risen to the challenge every day and I'm excited to see what Ava can do as time moves forward."

The Camdenton boys were led by Benjamin Hauck who finished 39th amongst 65 runners with a time of 20:13. Aidan Dowdney placed 44th at 20:35, Kam Durnin was 49th at 20:58, Blake Roettgen was 50th at 21:24 and Wesley Lahay was 57th at 22:58.

“Our boys had a great day today and I was really impressed with all of them,” Moriearty said.

The coach said Hauck held his own in a tough field after putting in the work at practice and it paid off. 

"Probably not the result he's really wanting but he's making improvements every week and each race, whether that reflects in time and place or not," she said. 

And the efforts of the other Laker boys have not gone unnoticed, either. 

"Aidan really impressed me today and I think it was arguably his best race over the last two years or maybe tied with his Hermitage race last year," Moriearty said. "He was really gritty and showed some real strength out there today and it is always fun to watch it all come together. Kam came off a great football win against Glendale to also have a strong race today. Kam is really fun to watch because he has absolutely no true cross country training. Whatever he gets aerobically at football practice is what we see on the course, but he's strong and that carries him through a lot. I'd love to see what some offseason and summer running could do with the strength and talent he already has.

"Blake had something come over him late in the race to make him feel sick, but sometimes these things just happen. I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see Blake at his lowest point in the race and there he took a few seconds, gathered himself and then absolutely crushed the remaining 800 meters or so," Moriearty continued. You could tell he was frustrated, but I've never seen someone recover so well. Wes, a freshman, we also threw into tough competition today, but I think he really stepped up today as well. He was competitive and raced well on the tough course and came out feeling a little more confident in himself." 

Moriearty went on to say that some of her runners may have been disappointed with their results overall in the post race aftermath, but she knows how tough the course can be having run it herself as a Laker in the past.

“They were in good spirits by the end of the day, but this course just takes and takes and doesn’t give much back. Everything hurts, the long uphils drag on you and you can feel your legs moving slower and slower,” the coach pointed out. “None of this helps the mental game so when you cross the finish line you feel like absolute garbage... Even on your best day, you’ll walk away from this course feeling drained and like your body was working against you the whole time.

“Even with the effort and strength shown, today was probably the best they’ve done.”

Up next for Camdenton is districts on October 31 where the top 15 individuals and top two teams will make the cut for state on November 7.

“We’ll have a bunch of kids ready to put in work for the next one. These kids know they’re lucky to even be at this part of the season- they’ve seen teammates in and out of quarantine and they’ve felt the uncertainty looming over them,” Moriearty said. “A group of frustrated faces yesterday tells us they care and care deeply about all of the work they’ve put in this season amongst the uncertainties. They want to walk away feeling like they showed that off and as coaches, we are incredibly proud of this group and get to see them grit it out every day. We’re thankful to have this group to keep us smiling and laughing and feeling proud throughout this mess of 2020.”

Macks Creek and Climax Springs runners face off at Humansville

Macks Creek and Climax Springs were in action at Humansville on Saturday where the Polk County League was also hosting its conference meet.

The Macks Creek boys finished seventh amongst the nine schools who fielded teams with 164 points while Climax Springs finished ninth with 168 and Hermitage won the event with 34 points, respectively. The Macks Creek girls placed third among four schools with 60 points while Climax Springs did not have any girls racing. Skyline won the event with 37 points overall.

The Macks Creek boys were placed by Caleb Phillips who earned second amongst a field of 68 runners. His time of 18:26 trailed only Marion C. Early’s Gavin Duchscherer who crossed the finish line at 18:05. Grant English finished 30th with a time of 20:02, Kyler Gabriel was 32nd at 20:03, Aydin Long was 67th at 25:02 and Austin Brown was 68th at 25:10.

Cole Smith was the first Cougar to reach the finish line for Climax Springs placing 18th with a time of 19:27. Gesse Smith was not too far behind him placing 19th at 19:30, Hunter Hertzog was 41st at 20:59, Johny McCartney was 56th at 22:06 and Junior Bellamy was 66th at 24:40.

Molly Phillips led the Pirate girls with an eighth place finish at 23:50 amongst a field of 37 runners in her race while Adriana Mayer was 13th at 24:26, Taylor Rich was 24th at 27:13, Alyssa Gabriel was 30th at 28:28 and Chelsey Brown was 36th at 31:29.

Macks Creek was scheduled to race in the Vienna Autumn Classic on Monday and the Pirates will return to action on Thursday with a meet at Waynesville on Thursday at 3 p.m. Climax Springs will return to action on Wednesday in a meet at Appleton City.