Area runners named to Tri-State Cross Country Team

Courier-Post staff
Posted: Dec. 20, 2016 1:50 pm

Four area runners have been selected by coaches to the Tri-State Cross Country All-Area Team.

Hannibal junior Ayden Nichols and Mark Twain junior Devin Neff each earned spots on the boys first team. Hannibal freshman Claudia Nichols was selected to the girls first team, while Mark Twain senior Madalyn Ford was named Honorable Mention.

Neff had a strong season from start to finish. He won the Clopton Invitational and placed in the top 10 in three other big races throughout the season, including ninth at the Running Raider and fifth at the Frank Lemons Invite. He was the Eastern Missouri Conference champion and runner-up at Class 3 districts. At the state meet, he finished 15th overall with a time of 17:22.

Ayden Nichols, the 2015 Tri-State Runner of the Year, was hindered by injuries during the 2016 season but remained among the top local runners. The junior finished 11th in the Running Raider and tenth at the Tom Oakley Invite. He placed 11th in the North Central Missouri Conference meet and 18th in Class 4 districts before competing at sectionals and narrowly missing a chance to return to state.

Claudia Nichols burst onto the scene as a freshman, leading the Hannibal Lady Pirates from the start of the season with an eighth-place finish at the Running Raider and third-place showing at the Tom Oakley Invite. She finished as the NCMC runner-up and followed that by placing 17th in the Class 4 district meet and 34th overall at sectionals. 

Ford came into the season looking to build upon a state appearance last season. She recorded several strong races, most notably a 15th-place finish in the district meet. She qualified for the state meet in Jefferson City, where she finished 108th overall in the girls race with a time of 23:47.

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