By ERIC X. VICCARO
The Valle Catholic High School girls’ cross country team once again is expected to be a contender for a podium spot at the state meet in November.
The Warriors finished second at Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1 state meet last year, compiling 109 points — 18 more than champion College Heights Christian.
The road to state begins this weekend as Valle Catholic participates in the Jackson Invitational at City Park. This is essentially a warm-up meet with contestants running shorter distances than normal.
“Every meet is a challenge,” said longtime Valle Catholic head coach Samer Zoughaib.
The coach remarked the biggest foe the Warriors will contend with early in the season will be the heat. Temperatures and heat indices are expected to eclipse 80 degrees by 9 a.m. Saturday in Jackson according to the Weatherbug mobile application.
Meanwhile, Ste. Genevieve won’t have a meet until Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Arcadia Valley Invitational in Ironton.
“Our race schedule is very similar to last year,” Ste. Genevieve head coach Sierra Boyd noted.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is posing less of a threat this year. Valle Catholic will compete at the St. Vincent Invitational in Perryville next week. Ste. Genevieve also runs at the Festus Bowles Invitational on Sept. 18.
“Last year, there were a couple of races that added more divisions to limit the number of athletes on the start line (due to the pandemic),” Boyd said. “I’m hopeful that will not continue this year.”
Boyd said the Cape Notre Dame Regional Invitational in early October and the Mineral Area Activities Association meet on Oct. 9 will be the most challenging races.
Like last year, the MAAA meet will be a double-meet in conjunction with the Potosi Invitational at City Park.
Valle Catholic once again will trek to Columbia during the regular season for the Gans Creek Invitational on Sept. 25.
Both the Dragons and Warriors will run in the Farmington Invitational on Oct. 16. Ste. Genevieve also competes at the Farmington Postal meet for the second straight year in September.