By ERIC VICCARO
COLUMBIA — The Valle Catholic boys’ cross country team earned a fourth-place finish in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1 state meet.
The Valle girls also fared well, grabbing fifth spot in a competitive field of 16 squads at Gans Creek Park.
Valle Catholic head coach Samer Zoughaib said the weather and course conditions were perfect — and that helped the Warriors produce bountiful results at state.
Valle Catholic junior Peter Roth produced the top performance among all county runners at the meet — taking fifth in a time of 17:04.3.
“We ran as good as we possibly could,” Zoughaib noted.
Roth’s effort was needed in more ways than one, because Zoughaib had to shift his running line-up due to health concerns. Since Roth finished among the top-25 runners, he also garnered all-state honors.
“Peter led the boys to a fourth-place finish,” the coach commented.
Zoughaib noted typical No. 4 runner Austin Ringwald was dealing with an unspecified injury leading up to the race. Garrett Shortt and Joseph Flieg both suffered from fevers, with Flieg unable to run at all.
“Considering we didn’t have number four, five and six, and substituted seven and eight to run for them, and still finished fourth as a team should tell you how talented this group is,” Zoughaib said.
Roth drastically improved on his 2020 finish (33rd, 18:21.9).
Braden Coleman was the Warriors’ next best finisher, taking 35th in a time of 18:11.5. Josef Flieg was next, clocking in at 18:20.8 for 43rd spot.
Thomas Varga placed 104th (19:37.1), Jayce Bales 122nd (19:58.7), Dominic Griffard 136th (20:14.6) and Shortt 139th (20:16.3) to round out the Warrior runners.
Valle Catholic’s boys finished with 162 points, which was seven points more than third place Wellsville-Middletown. The Warriors scored three fewer points than Van Buren, a team they faced at the district meet in Ironton the week before.
On the girls’ side, Valle Catholic freshman runner Madelyn Griffard made an impressive debut with a 22nd-place finish in a time of 20:57.2.
And Griffard earned all-state distinction in the process.
“On the girls’ side, we did everything right,” Zoughaib said. “We had personal records all over the place. The girls ran a perfect race, and just got beat by four better teams.”
Valle Catholic totaled 190 points for fifth spot, which was 16 more than St. Pius X (Kansas City). The Warriors were 18 points better than Steelville (208).
This marked the final scholastic races for Camryn Basler, Katie Kertz and Lillian Hoog. These three girls were major cogs in Valle Catholic’s second-place finish in Class 1 the previous year.