For smaller schools like Marion County, Mark Twain and Palmyra, the Running Raider Cross Country Invitational in Quincy's South Park is all about individual goals.
For smaller schools like Marion County, Mark Twain and Palmyra, the Running Raider Cross Country Invitational in Quincy’s South Park is all about individual goals.
Mark Twain coach Erin Mack and Palmyra coach Nick Koetters both left Tuesday’s race with smile on their faces.
Koetters’ Panther boys team placed in the top half of the field for the first time, and all of Mack’s Tigers ran personal records.
It didn’t matter neither team came close to winning a team title.
“Every one of my kids ran a personal record today,” an ecstatic Mack said. “Even the JV kids. So it was a good day for all of them. It was just a great effort by all 11 team members today.”
Said Koetters, “We have never finished any better than third from last so for the boys to finish in the top half, I could not be any more proud of them.”
Quincy High captured the girls team title with 96 points led by Lydia Kurfman’s first-place finish in a time of 18 minutes, 49 seconds.
The Lady Panthers (399) finished 17th, followed by Mark Twain (436) and Marion County (509).
Freshman Lydia Szarka paced the Lady Panthers with a 51st place finish in a time of 23:38.
Mark Twain was led by Emma Jo Ross. The freshman covered the 3.1 mile course in 23:06, good for 47th.
Marion County was led by Payton Hays’ 98th place finish of 26:46.
On the boys side, Mark Twain’s Devin Neff was the best local finisher as he placed third overall with a time of 16:53. Last week at Van-Far, Neff placed second but with a time of 18:30.
“I wasn’t happy with that time, so today was just a great push,” the Tiger senior said. “It was tough but I was able to conquer it. I wanted to shoot for around 17:30 so to run a 16:53 it is just a great motivation for me to keep pushing and getting better.”
Mack mentioned Neff ran a smart race and had a good attitude coming into the meet.
“This was his best time,” the Tigers coach said. “I don’t think he had 16 minutes in mind, but we are very happy with the time he posted. We knew he was better than what he ran last week and today he came here with the mindset he was going to do good and he did.”
Palmyra was paced by Spencer Locke’s 19th place finish. He covered the course in 18:09.
“I don’t think I have ever had a kid medal here so for Spencer to come out here against this competition is great,” Koetters said. “And Nick Mudd ran his best race here as well.”
Mudd was the second Panther to cross the finish line. He was clocked at 18:50.
Marion County, who finished 16th in the team standings, was paced by Carson Bock’s 83rd place finish in a time of 20:39.
Mack mentioned the meet is a step in the right direction for her program.
“A lot of the kids are new and they step off the bus and get a little overwhelmed by all the hills and all the kids here,” the Tigers coach explained. “And when they are running they see a lot of kids in front of them, but then they realize there are also a lot of kids still behind them too. And when they finish and see their times they are all excited and they start to believe in themselves. And as a coach that is what you want. So I think this will be a huge confidence boost for all our kids.”
Koetters echoed the same sentiments.
“We ran well Saturday and ran well again today,” he said. “We will face some more stiff competition Saturday at Fulton, but after Saturday and today, I think we all have some encouraging signs.”