Van Buren girls place fourth in Class 1 state cross country meet; Deaton, Thies, Nea among area all-state medalists

COLUMBIA, Mo. ó The Van Buren girls cross country team placed in the top four for the first time in program history at the MSHSAA Cross Country championships on Saturday at the new 5,000-meter Gans Creek course.

Poplar Bluff junior Jaden Deaton earned all-state honors with a late comeback for 22nd place to become the fifth Mules runner to place in the top 25 at state and first since 2005.

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East Carterís Kennedy Thies earned her fourth straight top-25 finish in Class 2 while Dexterís Margo Nea earned an all-state medal in Class 3 as did Ellingtonís Carson McNail and Van Burenís Dominic Hill in Class 2.

Van Burenís Katie Griffin earned all-state honors by finishing 21st, senior Hailee Bressler led a pack of Bulldogs that finished within 16 seconds of each other as Addison Lewis and Audrey Bressler followed while Hailey Burke completed Van Burenís score. Lani Black and Jessica Mays were non-scoring runners for the Bulldogs, who qualified as the District 1 champion.

Ellington placed ninth led by freshman Kylie Hampton in 29th place.

Thies placed 20th at 20 minutes, 15.7 seconds, her fastest time in four years at state. She finished ninth last year at the Oak Hills course in Jefferson City at 21:14, was 22nd as a sophomore and 20th as a freshman.

Nea claimed the last all-state medal in Class 3 by placing 25th in 19:51.5. The senior finished 0.7 of a second ahead of Moberly junior Isabella Ross, moving up three spots over the final 1,000 meters.

McNail placed 11th in the Class 1 race at 17:20.4 while Hill finished in 17:35.1 for 18th for all-state honors.

Deaton, who finished 64th at state last year, was 21st after the opening 1,000 meters but dropped to 33rd over the next 1,000. The junior ran his third-fastest split over the final 1,000 meters to move up four spots and earn an all-state medal.

His time of 15:57 was a personal best as he joins Arthur Waddle, John Myers (three times), Ross MacDonald (twice) and John-Mark Lewis as all-state runners for the Mules.

Rockhurst senior Wesley Porter had the fastest time on the new course, winning the Class 4 race in 15:07.5. Rock Bridge freshman Carolyn Ford won the Class 4 girls race in 18:08.6.

Blue Eye won the Class 1 girls title with 56 points followed by North Platte (84 points), Lutheran of Kansas City (109) and Van Buren (116).

Griffin finished in 21:31 for 21st to lead the Bulldogs while Hailee Bressler was 31st in 22:15. Lewis, a sophomore, was 33rd at 22:21 while Audrey Bressler followed 10 seconds later in 40th.

When Griffin crossed the finish line, seven other teams had already scored their first points. The Bulldogs were sitting sixth after two runners and fifth, 14 points behind St. Joseph Christian, after three runners.

Freshman Audrey Bressler finished nearly a minute ahead of Christianís fourth runner to put Van Buren in fourth place and Burke was 36 seconds ahead of Christianís fifth runner for an 8-point cushion.

Van Burenís Nos. 3-5 runners all finished ahead of their counterparts from the third place place team, Lutheran of Kansas City. But the Knights had two runners in the top 20 overall to beat the Bulldogs by 7 points.

Van Burenís non-scoring sixth runners, Black and Mays, both finished ahead of Christianís No. 6 runner had a tie needed to be broken.

In 2016, Van Buren finished 3 points behind fourth place.

Since 2001, the girls have qualified for state as a team 11 times and finished in the top 10 seven times.

Van Burenís boys placed second in 2004 and third in 2003.

Hampton led the Whippets, who finished seventh at state last year, by finishing in 22:04 for 29th place. She earned 16 points. Grace Lloyd finished 61st in 23:15 while freshman Ella Morton (24:30) was 101st. Hannah Fitzgerald, a senior, ran 25:17 and sophomore Natalie Barnett finished in 26:34 for the Whippets.

In Class 2, Bloomfield sophomore Josh Reynolds placed 98th at 18:11, Braxton Walker of East Carter finished in 18:14 for 101st, Jagger Robinson, a Greenville junior, finished at 18:33 for 119th while Bloomfield junior Nick Carter finished 162nd at 20:07.

The Oak Ridge boys won the Class 1 team title by 51 points over Blue Eye.

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