ND's Morris leads All-Southeast Missourian boys cross country team

Notre Dame's Blake Morris heads to the finish line to win the SEMO Conference cross country championship race Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Ozark Ridge Golf Course in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Morris won in 15 minutes, 42.94 seconds.
Daily American Republic

Editor's note: Selection to the 2019 All-Southeast Missourian Team does not necessarily constitute selection to the Semoball Award finalists for boys cross country (XC). The Semoball Awards will be announced July 11 at the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University, presented by SoutheastHealth.

Blue Jays win state

The 2019 cross country season resulted in a 2019 Class 1 state championship for the boys of Oak Ridge High School, coached by Kristi Seyer.

The top finish by the Blue Jays follows the boys’ runner-up finish at state in 2018.

Oak Ridge and Jackson placed three boys each on the All-Southeast Missourian team, St. Vincent had two, with one each from Meadow Heights, Notre Dame, and Woodland.

Missouri recruit and Notre Dame senior Blake Morris heads the team as the 2019 Boy’s Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Blake Morris, Notre Dame

The choice of Morris, 17, to lead the team is straightforward.

The Bulldogs senior ran the fastest time of any local runner at the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) championships held at Gans Creek course in Columbia, Mo.

Morris’ time in the five-kilometer race (16:02.1) was good enough for seventh in the Class 3 competition.

Morris finished 33 seconds behind the winner.

Morris was disappointed in what he viewed as the biggest race of his life to-date.

“I’m not making excuses,” Morris said. “I wasn’t feeling 100 percent (in the race) and could tell something was off.”

Morris’ coach, Richard Bohn, a 2008 Notre Dame alum and former runner himself, understands an athlete can’t predict his body on the day of a race.

“(Blake) was in the lead early (at state),” Bohn said, “but it was clear he wasn’t feeling great that day.

“(Morris) was hurting the whole time but gave everything he had.”

Blake’s time at state was 15 seconds slower than his Class 3 District 1 winning time of 15:47.01.

“I felt some pressure since some had me penciled in as the projected winner,” Morris said. “I’d never been in that spot before.”

Bohn says most cross country coaches follow the same routine in getting a runner ready for an important meet.

“The day before, he’ll run fewer miles but with faster sprints,” said Bohn, in his sixth year with the Bulldogs program and his second as head coach.

“After state, I took a short rest,” said Morris, “but ever since I’ve been training harder than ever.”

Morris says he hopes that the high school spring track season isn’t completely lost due to coronavirus anxiety.

In track, Morris competes in the 800-meters, the mile and the two-mile.

“I definitely take a lot of joy when I run,” Morris said, who plans to major in business management in college.

“Sometimes (running) is a struggle, but it gives me a lot of pleasure.”

Other members of the honored squad include:

Luke Wendel, Jackson

The senior led the Jackson boys in every race.

He posted a season-best mark of 15:56.

In the state’s largest class, Class 4, consisting of over 100 teams, Wendel finished 39th at Gans Creek with a time of 16:17.

Evan Stephens, Jackson

The Indians’ No. 2 runner, a junior, Stephens finished sixth in the SEMO Conference meet, 20th at district, and 103rd at state with a time of 16:45.7.

Cade McCadams, Jackson

One of only a handful of freshmen to qualify for state, McCadams spent the summer before the cross country season as a competitive swimmer.

He posted a personal season-best 16:49 at the SEMO Conference meet and matched the time with his 110th place finish at Gans Creek.

Timothy Sloan, Woodland

Sloan, a senior, finished first at the following meets: Oak Ridge, Woodland, Farmington, Heartland Conference and Stoddard County (SCAA).

He was also the Class 2 District 1 champion.

At the state meet in November, Sloan finished 47th (17:22.4) among Class 2 competition.

Tanner Schamburg, Oak Ridge

A member of the Class 1 champion boys cross country squad, the senior finished 14th in his division at the state meet with a time of 17:29.7.

Jack Baer, St. Vincent

The junior medaled in eight of 10 races in 2019 and established a personal season-best of 17:27 at the Oak Ridge Invitational.

Baer finished 56th in Class 2 at state (17:33.3).

Nathan Shrum, Meadow Heights

A senior, Shrum medaled in nine of 11 contests.

He finished 19th in Class 1 at state (17:35.6).

Philip Marshall, Oak Ridge

One of three Blue Jays on the All-Southeast Missourian team, the junior posted a 22nd best time in Class 1 at Gans Creek (17:37.1).

Kyle Steindecker, St. Vincent

The junior Indian runner finished 67th in Class 2 competition at state (17:40.4).

Mason Keith, Oak Ridge

The third entrant from Seyer’s squad on the All-Southeast Missourian squad, the junior’s time of 17:51.2 was good for 31st place in Class 1.

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