Saturday’s Class 4, Sectional 3 cross country race at Camdenton was a bittersweet one for Carthage.
Senior Ben Southwick finished in the top 30 to qualify for next weekend’s state championship meet, but senior Carter Hensley missed the cut and finished in 52nd.
“I’m excited for Ben and his opportunity to compete next weekend for the third time at the state meet,” Carthage head coach Andy Youngworth said. “I don’t know how many Carthage runners have competed in three Class 4 state cross country events. It’s still bittersweet because Carter had a great year going for him. He did everything he could. They were together, they followed the plan.”
Southwick placed 28th with a time of 16:30.72. Hensley’s time was 17:21.47.
“When Carter got sick at the end of September or early October, he just wasn’t quite the same runner after that,” Youngworth said. “This is a kid who took 20th at Missouri Southern, one of the biggest races in the area. I feel bad for him but the good thing is his career is not over. He still has a spring track and field season and he has a desire to go on and compete at the next level.
“I’m really excited for Ben,” he said. “He had his own struggles toward the end of the year with a back that was giving him issues. He was not the 28th-best runner in our sectional. There were some guys who beat him today that he’s consistently beat throughout his running career. He’s been hampered a little the last few weeks, but we’re going to set up a strategy to try and get him in the top 50 at state. There’s no more pressure, no more qualifying, this is it.”
Both Southwick and Hensley went through the first mile at 5:12, and Southwick was at 10:32 after two miles.
Rock Bridge senior Evan Schulte won the race with a time of 15:19.59, and Joplin senior Matt Riechman-Bennett took fourth in 15:55.98. Neosho sophomore Chance Burr earned 14th in 16:12.51, and Joplin senior Kush Bhakta took 22nd in 16:24.26.
Other local runners included Joplin junior Janzen White in 41st, Joplin freshman Blaine Jimerson in 47th, Webb City sophomore Bristol Hargis in 51st, Webb City freshman Grant Miller in 54th, Webb City junior Chris Cooper in 61st, Joplin sophomore James Tupper in 63rd, Webb City sophomore Victor Encarnacion in 64th, Joplin freshman Logan Keller in 69th, Webb City freshman Tadd Capron in 70th, Webb City junior Omar Perez in 72nd, Neosho senior Cole Bishop in 73rd, Joplin senior Devon Stahl in 74th and Webb City junior Sam Goddard in 76th.
Joplin and Webb City were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the team standings, while Rock Bridge, West Plains, Kickapoo and Glendale were the top four.
Page 2 of 2 - Carthage had several other runners compete in the unofficial alternates race as a reward for a good varsity season.
Eli Wells set a career-best time of 18:08 and finished 19th overall. Riley Schmidt finished approximately 30th in 18:30. Jared Golden finished in 19:12, and first-year runner Anthony Childs finished in 22:30, an improvement of roughly nine minutes from the beginning of the season.
“It gives our younger guys a chance for another race, more experience, more training,” Youngworth said. “It was nice to see them wrap that up. There is no alternates race at state but we always take a couple guys to see the course and run it on Friday to get a taste of the big picture.”