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CHS cross country runners post steady state showings

Simmer, top girls’ trio finish mid-pack, girls’ team last among nine in Thursday's Class 3 state championships race

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Senior Hayden Simmer (center, nearest camera) strides along Columbia's Gans Creek Cross Country Course Thursday afternoon during Missouri's Class 3 high school cross country running state championships. In his state debut and final high school race, Simmer finished in a career-best time of 18:46.9 for the 5-kilometers race, placing him 97th out of 168 runners.

COLUMBIA — No significantly-surprising showings – either positively or negatively – sprung from Chillicothe High School’s heftiest participation in the state cross country running championships in five years last Thursday.

In what is believed to have been – thanks to COVID-19 transmission-prevention measures – the first mid-week state-championship races ever, four of Chillicothe’s six individual participants posted solid finishes in the middle portion of their respective competitions and the five girls who ran and allowed CHS to be included in team competition for the first time in 33 years gained valuable experience just be participating.

“Very happy and excited the girls' team and Hayden were able to experience the state meet,” CHS first-year head coach Jennifer Dickson commented. “They worked hard all summer and season with that goal in mind.

“It was a wonderful experience and we are grateful for that opportunity.”

She confirmed that the exposure to state competition has whetted the girls’ team’s appetite for returning in 2021.

“It has fueled their passion for this sport and the future of the program,” she related. “The girls are already talking about goals for next year and how we get back there, but our goal is to bring everyone (on both genders’ squads) next time.”

The lone Chillicothe senior involved Thursday – Hornet Hayden Simmer – ran a career-fastest 18:46.9 to place 97th out of 168 qualifiers. That was about 18 seconds faster than he’d run the 5-kilometers (approximately 3.1 miles) ever before. He was about 15 seconds away from placing in the exact middle of the field

Chillicothe (Mo.) HS sophomore Aliyah Briner, right, strides alongside a North Callaway runner at the head of a small pack of competitors with teammate Kadence Shipers (background, left)  stays near that group as it rounds a bend during the second half of Thursday's (Nov. 5) 2020 Missouri Cross Country Running Championships for Class 3 schools. Repeat participant Briner was the CHS team's top finisher, placing 88th individually in 22:52.1, with K. Shipers less than a second behind in 89th and 22:53. In their first state-meet team participation since 1987, the Lady Hornets finished ninth among the nine teams competing.

On the distaff side of Thursday’s competition at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course, repeat state qualifier Aliyah Briner showed the way for CHS – by one place and less than one second.

The sophomore and junior Kadence Shipers ran within chatting distance of each other virtually start to finish and, at the end, were feet apart. Briner crossed the finish line 88th out of 156 racers in 22:52.1 and K. Shipers 89th in 22:53. Briner’s state time was 27 seconds faster than her time at the district meet last Saturday and K. Shipers’ was 51 seconds.

Junior Kadence Shipers of the Chillicothe (Mo.) cross country running Lady Hornets momentarily finds herself running relatively alone during last Thursday's 2020 Missouri Class 3 State Championships meet at Columbia's Gans Creek Cross Country Course. She and teammate Aliyah Briner paced each other for most of the race and finished within a second of the other with sophomore Briner placing 88th in 22:52.1 and K. Shipers 89th in 22:53.

Not far behind that duo was sophomore Juliann Gabrielson, whose career-best time of 23:06 – 38 seconds faster than her district-meet time five days earlier – put her 97th individually.

Sophomore Juliann Gabrielson strides past a fenced area for spectators during last Thursday's (Nov. 5) 2020 Missouri Class 3 Cross Country Running Championships at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia. Gabrielson ran a career-fastest time of 23:06 for the 5-kilometers race, placing her 97th out of 156 participants.

The time which put a female runner in the exact middle of the field was 22:42, so Briner and K. Shipers were barely 10 seconds away from that and Gabrielson 24 seconds shy.

“It was a hot day, but they ran hard and, out of our six runners, we came away with three ‘PRs’ and four top-100 finishes!” summarized Dickson

As the runners cover the first few hundred yards of the 5,000-meters Class 3 State Championships race at Columbia's Gans Creek Cross Country Running Course, four members of the 5-members Chillicothe High School squad participating are seen – in the middle of the frame in red tops are, from left, Kadence Shipers and Aliyah Briner. At right are Juliann Gabrielson and Kaylynn Cranmer. Also competing, but not in this frame,, was Emily Shipers. Participating in team competition for the first since in 33 years, the CHS girls' squad placed ninth among the nine participating teams.

Completing Chillicothe’s performance at the state meet were Lady Hornets sophomore Kaylynn Cranmer running a 25:37.9 that put her 141st and freshman Emily Shipers finishing in 151st in 29:59.4. Cranmer’s time was nearly 1:20 faster than her district clocking and E. Shipers’ 1:31 quicker.

“I could not be more proud of them and their drive and dedication to running and their team,” Dickson praised the 2020 squad, including those Hornets who did not advance to state.