HANNIBAL – Brice Miller wasn't expecting to see the time he saw when he came into view of the electronic board near the finish line.
The junior on the Hannibal boys cross country team could see it as he rounded the final curve toward the straightaway in Saturday morning's Frank Lemons Invitational at the American Legion Golf Course.
“I saw it in the low 17s and it gave me that extra boost,” Miller said. “I had been fighting to break 18 minutes.”
Miller did that with ease, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 39.72 seconds to finish ninth overall. His previous best was in the 18:20s.
“That beats my personal record by nearly a minute,” Miller said. “That's exciting, man.”
So was the way the Pirates performed.
Freshman Cameron Nichols was right behind Miller and was the 10th runner to cross the lien in 17:39.33. Hannibal sophomore Xavier Damotte finished 13th in 18:13.19, giving the Pirates three runners inside the top 15.
Hannibal finished fourth with 75 points, and was just 10 points away from finishing second. Kirksville won the team title with 33 points as Evan Aubuchon won the race in 16:28.21.
The Pirates, however, feel they're hitting their best times with just a week before districts begin.
“This was a tough course, especially with the cold,” Nichols said. “It was a tough for everyone. But I think our morale was a lot higher because this is our home course, and everyone was ready for this race.”
It gives Hannibal confidence for the postseason.
“It's really encouraging,” Nichols said. “We've improved a lot this year with us being so young. I think this will help keep us going.”
Hannibal's Eli Hess 25th in 19:47.28 to round out the top four runners.
Monroe City's top runner was Kaleb Griffin, who finished 18th in 18:44.07. Teammate Kabott Harlan was 20th in 19:00.38.
Mark Twain's Brandon Fullenwider was 22nd in 19:22.78, Will Owen was 26th in 19:49.18, and Jackson Jung was right behind him in 27th in 19:55.65.