By ERIC X. VICCARO
JACKSON — Valle Catholic High School cross country runner Madelyn Griffard appears to be a quick study.
Griffard raced in with a third-place finish in the girls’ ninth-grade race, which covered 1.95 miles, on Saturday at the season-opening Jackson Invitational in Jackson City Park.
The former St. Agnes athlete clocked in with a time of 13 minutes, 9.8 seconds.
Tenth- through 12th-grade runners traversed a slightly longer course at 2.35 miles. Race officials bumped up the competition one hour to help competitors beat the heat.
“You could really feel the difference by 9:30 a.m., when the senior girls had to run,” said Valle Catholic head coach Samer Zoughaib.
Competition was tough, with 29 schools from across Missouri and Illinois including Missouri Class 5 Jackson, Lindbergh, Poplar Bluff and Cape Central plus Illinois Class 6 Carbondale.
Zoughaib said the event served as a perfect warm-up for future races, including this Wednesday at the St. Vincent Invitational in Perryville’s Park Center.
“The meet will have nine teams, and it will be very competitive,” the coach commented. “It will be our first test of running a five-kilometer, especially for our new freshmen and Lexi (Ritter). It will also be our first chance to have all the kids run together, and key off each other as we do in practice every day.”
Top-25 runners received medals, and Valle Catholic was well-represented across the board.
Camryn Basler, a 2020 state medalist, was ninth in the 12th-grade girls’ division posting a time of 17:15.619. Katie Kertz was next in 15th (18:24.078). Lillian Hoog also earned a medal, taking 23rd (19:04.305.
Peter Roth was 10th and Braden Coleman 21st in the 11th-grade boys’ division with respective times of 14:15.250 and 15:01.671.
Other finishers were Josef Flieg (28th, 15.25.635), Joseph Flieg (36th, 16:19.107), Jayce Bales (42nd, 16:56.434), and Matthew Hoog (50th, 18:13.576).
In the 10th-grade boys’ race, Garrett Shortt was the top finisher for Valle Catholic (17th, 14:59.002), with Dominic Griffard next (37th, 16:27.465) and Truman Tucker (50th, 17:25.994).
Thomas Varga and Austin Ringwald both finished with medals in tow. Varga was 18th (12:55.871) and Ringwald 20th (12:59.580).
Lexi Ritter clocked in with a time of 21:09.708 in the girls’ 10th-grade race.
DRAGONS OPEN SOON
Ste. Genevieve will not have a regular-season meet until Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Arcadia Valley Invitational in Ironton. Valle Catholic also will compete here.