Cross country running Lady Hornets have four finish among top 11 to win team title of Maryville Invitational. Soccer Hornets score twice in first four minutes en route to 6-1 Midland Empire Conference win at Cameron. Tennis girls dominate Cameron in league play, as well

Three 2019 Chillicothe High School fall sport varsity teams initiated their regular seasons Tuesday (Sept. 3) in triumphant style.
At home, the tennis Lady Hornets waxed Cameron 8-1 in not only their season opener, but also Midland Empire Conference opener before hosting Savannah in another league dual match Wednesday.
At Cameron, the soccer Hornets debuted with a 6-1 conference conquest.
Farther up the road at Maryville, the cross country running Lady Hornets – speculated in preseason assessments as having the potential to have one of their best team seasons ever – stepped out in style, claiming their gender’s championship of the Maryville Invitational meet with a well-balanced showing.
Those wins followed the varsity football Hornets’ christening of CHS’ 2019-20 sports year last Friday with a win at Marshall, one the junior-varsity gridders followed with a 42-8 blowout of Marshall reserves on Labor Day.
Tuesday’s soccer and tennis MEC victories over Cameron were not surprising – Cameron didn’t have enough players for a team last year and the Chillicothe racquet girls are defending league champions.
The immediate success of the girls’ harriers – albeit against a mostly-small-schools field – was more noteworthy.
Last year’s Lady Hornets won a meet at St. Joseph, the first team title by a CHS girls’ cross country running squad in a couple of decades.
The wait for the next one was much, much shorter, although it came in physically-daunting conditions, according to new CHS coach Michael Creekmore.
“The heat index was 97 (degrees) when we rolled into town,” he related in reporting the meet results. “It was a very hot race, especially since we have had very nice weather for the vast majority of our workouts to date.
“I thought our kids showed a tremendous amount of mental toughness to compete the way they did. I am very proud of all of them.”
CHS’ girls prevailed when their top four finishers were among the first 11 to cross the finish line and the fifth placed 21st. Their adjusted, low-5 team-points total of 29 put them three ahead of second-place host Maryville, which dominated the boys’ competition with the top five finishers.
Pacing the Lady Hornets was sophomore returnee Kadence Shipers, who took seventh place in 23:53.94 for the 5-kilometers (approximately 3.1 miles) run.
However, three newcomers to the team provided the rest of the high-finishing quartet.
Clairissa Nivens, a senior transfer, was next after Shipers in 24:04.92, while freshmen Aliyah Briner (24.40.37) and Juliann Gabrielson (24:42.83) were 10th and 11th, respectively.
Although Maryville had its top five all in the first 15 finishers, the latter three of those were were 13th through 15th. That kept the door open for Chillicothe to prevail, if its next finisher was among the next five runners from squads with enough for team-points computations (minimum five runners).
As it turned out, junior Emma Burk (27:12.14) was third among that sub-category and 21st overall (13th among team-scoring runners). She had a nearly 90-seconds cushion for the finishing spot needed to give CHS the team triumph.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Creekmore remarked.
Completing Chillicothe’s varsity contingent for Tuesday’s opening meet were senior Callaway Chapman (25th, 28:58.27) and sophomore Kathryn George (26th, 29:04.75).
On the boys’ side, the Hornets had only the team-scoring minimum of five varsity runners, but, with no finish higher than junior Hayden Simmer’s 14th-place 21.32.14, they stood last among the six scoring teams with 128 points, far behind Maryville’s perfect score of 15.
Running for the Hornets, in addition to top returnee Simmer, were sophomore Stephen Parkes (30th, 24:39.22), freshmen Logan Gregory (37th, 27:18.48) and Gavin Funk (42nd, 31:50.41), and junior Nathan Toole (44th, 33.20.33).
Chillicothe had three competitors – Kaylynn Cranmer, Mayanna Weed, and Kiera Bosley – in the girls’ 3,200-meters junior-varsity race.
Next for Chillicothe’s cross country runners is next Tuesday’s (Sept. 10) annual Chillicothe Invitational in Simpson Park. Weather permitting, competition will begin at 4 p.m. Routinely in the past, the park’s thoroughfares have been closed to vehicular traffic at 3 p.m. on race day.
CHS’ soccer Hornets got a goal and three assists from sophomore Ben Cueni-Smith and two goals and an assist from returning 2018 leading scorer Mason Baxter as they bested Cameron.
Chillicothe scored in both the second and fourth minutes of the match and never looked back.
"Our guys came out out with great effort and enthusiasm and it carried throughout the match,” Hornets head coach Tim Cunningham assesses.
Junior Baxter had the opening tally off the first of sophomore Cueni-Smith’s helpers. Senior Trent Norman then popped home what eventually was the winning goal in unassisted manner in the fourth minute.
After a lull, senior Kaleb Mullikin also picked up his first-ever varsity goal, aided by Baxter in the 21st minute. About six minutes before halftime, Baxter showed his scoring touch again, once more set up by Cueni-Smith.
The first minute of the second half saw Cueni-Smith fill the finisher’s role, making it 5-0 off Drake Cosgrove’s “dime.” Eight minutes later, Cueni-Smith’s corner kick found its way to fellow 10th grader Chace Corbin for the Hornets’ last goal.
Cameron spoiled Chillicothe sophomore goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson’s opportunity for a shutout in his varsity debut with about 12 minutes left. Albertson faced only two shots in the match, while the Hornets pelted the Cameron net with 19.

“We were able to get 21 players varsity experience,  which will only help us moving forward,” Cunningham added.
“I also was really proud of the way Cameron competed throughout the entire match, showing a lot of character and sportsmanship."
The Chillicothe booters will have their home opener Thursday (Sept. 5) against Kirksville. The action will begin with junior-varsity play at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II at 5 p.m. Varsity play will follow at about 6:15-6:30.
Chillicothe’s tennis Lady Hornets also cruised past Cameron in league action with two of their players enjoying total success in their varsity debuts.
First, junior Megan Sisson and sophomore Leah Lourenco combined to finish strong and take their No. 3 doubles set 8-4. Moving on to singles, Sisson earned an 8-2 verdict in No. 5 position and Lourenco an 8-0 whitewash at No. 6.
Also winning both in singles and doubles Tuesday were new No. 1 singles player Hunter Keithley (8-0 over Madison Thogmartin), No. 2 Macy Cavanah (8-0), and No. 4 Delaney May (8-0). Those conquests followed Keithley and Hannah Zimmerman blanking Brenna Bontrager and Thogmartin 8-0 in No. 1 singles and Cavanah and May taking No. 2 doubles 8-2.

Chillicothe's only defeat was in No. 3 singles, in which Zimmeman fell 4-8 to Bontrager.
Chillicothe’s Cami Carpenter, Olivia Anderson, and Hannah Dominique all defeated the only “extra” player Cameron has in three first-to-4 singles sets.
Monday’s holiday football win by Chillicothe’s jayvees saw the Hornets storm to a 22-0 lead after one quarter and 36-0 advantage at the half over Marshall.
In the end, six different CHS players – Gage Leamer, Dan Hoel, Ben Pithan, Donald McCracken, Cameron Fleener, and Caden Thomas – found paydirt.
Defensively for the Hornets, Seth Hansen forced a fumble which teammate Kamryn Rinehart recovered.