Although their meet-title streak was ended at four in the Excelsior Springs Invitational Tuesday (Oct. 8, 2019), CHS' girls still placed third, led by their two freshmen Aliyah Briner and Juliann Gabrielson

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — Facing a larger percentage of opposing runners from similar-sized or larger schools than in recent meets, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ cross country running Lady Hornets still continued their strong performances and high finishes in team standings in Tuesday’s (Oct. 8) Excelsior Springs Invitational meet.
“It was an absolutely gorgeous day to run,” Chillicothe first-year coach Michael Creekmore remarked, counterpointing Tuesday weather to the mostly hot and humid conditions in which most of his teams’ meets have occurred.
Although not able to extend their string of four meet titles in a row or add to the CHS-record five meet titles they’ve already posted this fall, the Lady Hornets still were a very solid third in the 8-teams standings. Their 81 team points trailed only Kansas City: Notre Dame de Sion (30) and Lenexa, Kan.: Christ Preparatory Academy (63). Maryville took fourth, 17 points back of CHS, and Meadville was eighth.
Individually, there was a different look to the Chillicothe girls’ results as – possibly for the first time ever – its top two finishers were freshmen.
Even with season-long leader Clarissa Nivens posting a 22nd-place finish in 24:25.8 as one of five Lady Hornets medal-winners, the CHS runner first to cross the finish line was ninth grader Aliyah Briner. She completed the five kilometers in 23:25.8, 12th-fastest overall among the girls and 2:02 seconds off the pace of winner Abigail Zitter of Christ Prep Academy.
The second Lady Hornet to complete the course was Briner’s classmate, Juliann Gabrielson. She turned in a 23:57.1, placing her 17th.
Senior Nivens, the Chillicothe girls’ top finisher in five of the six prior meets, was next to cross the line on the Excelsior Springs Golf Course in 22nd, followed by sophomore Kadence Shipers in 29th in 24:54.1. Completing CHS’ scoring handful was junior Emma Burk, who medaled with a 39th-place showing in 25:55.2.
Although not involved in the CHS scoring, there also was a juxtaposition in the usual order of finish of the other two Lady Hornets runners Tuesday. Sophomore Kathryn George’s 28:05.8 left her 57th, while senior Callaway Chapman took 60th in 28:20.6.
Although, team-wise, Chillicothe’s boys again placed last – out of 22 teams, including regional small schools Meadville, Hardin-Central, Polo, and Braymer, one Hornet did bring home an individual medal.
Junior Hayden Simmer nearly broke 20 minutes for a second time this fall as he took 40th place among virtually 160 boys’ varsity harriers. He ran a 20:01.3.
None of the remaining Hornets – Stephen Parkes (23:34.8), Clayton Savage (23:39.7), Logan Gregory (25:42.6), Gavin Funk (26:41.8), and Nathan Toole (30:41.8) – were higher than 120th. All also are underclassmen and most freshmen or sophomores.
Next on the Chillicothe cross country running slate is this Saturday’s even-bigger Kearney Invitational.