Saturday marked the 10th Anniversary for the Forest Park Cross Country Festival presented by Saucony! This year the course was in a new location near Aviation Field. (In the past it has been on the baseball fields.) The new course featured new challenges of steeper hills, sharper turns; the course was more spread out and went by the Science Center, around a lake, and an interesting statue of two dinosaurs. This meet is one of the largest meets in the Mid-West, featuring teams from about nine different states. The meet has become so big that this year an extra division was added. The gold division was added to the original white and green divisions. The divisions are usually based on school size, but if you are feeling ambitious entering in a more challenging division is welcomed. The Tigers are always ambitious and want to the race the best, so every race was ran in the most challenging division- green.
The JV races were the first races of the day. Breaking in the new course were the JV girls. Taking out in a pack of 235 runners, Allison Payne was the first Lady Tiger across the finish line running 23:38 in 42nd place; making it her fastest time of the season. Becca Amsden was next in 68th place, Bailey Moore 84th, and Rachel Barbagallo 94th, and Emily Rodgers 159th. Being 1 of about 3 other 3A schools represented in this race, these five young ladies finished 14th place overall as a team. The JV boys raced close to an hour after the girls. The JV boys toed the line against 417 runners, this was the largest race of the day. Joey Labitska took out with the front pack and held his ground in a competitive race. Trying to fight off a sickness we were a little worried if he could hang on but his determination faired, as he crossed the finish line in 5th place. Joey ran his fastest time ever for a 5k of 17:31. Dakota McKinney was the next Festus boy across the line in 18th place, and Matt Thomas in 30th. All three boys took home a medal. Jared Brown and Brady Shular completed the team score finishing 38th and 40th. The JV boys placed 4th with 125 points, just 15 points from of winning a trophy behind St. Thomas Aquinas from Kanas.
The Varsity races were the next races of the day. The Varsity Girls raced first. The Festus girls’ team is still piecing itself together and has yet to run as a complete team due to injuries and illness. Lily Uding was the first Festus girl across the line in 64th place running a solid time 20:33. Danielle Earll was shortly behind in 72nd place, Maddy Wisirchen in 95th and only 25 seconds behind Lily. As you can see this race was jammed pack this athletes. There were 33 runners in a 25 second span. Freshman Maddie Welsch and Melissa Wolk were the next Lady Tigers across the finish line in 157th and 189th. The girls finished in 20th place as team. All of the girls bettered their times from last year on a more difficult course. Coach Bryant Wright predicts this course is about 30s slower than the old course and results seem to be consistent with his prediction. Which shows even larger improvements on the girls side.
The Varsity Boys’ Green Division race was the highlight of the day, with polls of who will win the race individually and as a team. There were 227 boys in the varsity race green division. Jacob Schweiss was the front runner for the Festus Tigers. He tried to hang close to the favored Lafayette team, who put 5 guys in the top 30. With a 33 second spread the boy’s team finished in 3rd place receiving a trophy, behind second place St. Thomas Aquinas from Kanas and 1st place Lafayette; making them the second Missouri team and first 3A team. Jacob Schweiss was the only boy who won a medal in 18th place, running a time of 16:21. Finishing behind Jacob was Junior Noah Hunter sprinting in for 33rd place, Brendan Pratt 39th, Charlie Samarzich 43rd, and Hunter Darnell 44th.
The last high school race of the day was the freshman 3k. This year Festus had enough freshman boys to have an entire freshman team to run. Max McDaniel took the lead quickly and pulled on the rest of the pack the entire race. Max won the race 40 seconds ahead of the 2nd place freshman from Rockhurst. He ran a time of 9:46. Alec Whitener was the next Festus freshman across the finish line in 31st place, missing a medal by one place. Then came Trenton Childress 32nd, John Friener 63rd, and Ryan Reando 67th; placing them 5th as a team.
Now the very last races of the day were the Middle School races. This was the first middle school race of the season for the FMS Tigers. This was the first race for many athletes ever! The middle school girls’ finished 3rd as a team with 4 girls in the top 30; Demi White 10th, Bria Garmon 12th, Paige Treon 21st, and Abby McMillan 23rd. The middle school boys won the meet! Jonah Krieg and Garrett Rhine sprinted neck and neck and neck against Herculaneum’s Jonathon Coffman. Jonah and Garrett finished 1st and 2nd running10:56 and 10:57. Also receiving medals were Billy McPhereson 7th, Simon Ogle 11th, and Brock Lambert 25th. The middle school Tigers represented Festus proudly. Great Job FMS!