WARRENTON/ELSBERRY - Running hasn’t exactly been the “cool” thing to do lately, but the county’s cross country teams have made the most of it. 

With unseasonably warm temperatures touching the 90s last Friday and Monday, Warrenton and Wright City harriers still produced some solid performances at the Mike Spoede and Elsberry Invitational events.


Paying homage to former longtime Warrior Coach Mike Spoede, the annual race previously titled the Warrenton Invitational was held at its usual location — the high school — but was jazzed up with its new name and different look.

The latter called for because of Warrenton’s new softball field. Alterations included removing some of the course’s long straight portions and adding some harder turns. But overall, the course kept its grade, according to coaches.

And after running the adjusted course, Wright City sophomore Trent Bruning graded out better than any other county competitor, finishing sixth overall with a time of 18:22.66 in the boys race. Following Bruning’s lead for the ’Cats were senior Brandon Culton (22nd, 19:41.43), junior Cailou Florian Muller-Williams (42nd, 21:10.87), senior Colten Stodgill (52nd, 22:36.98) and sophomore Jackson Mazella (60th, 26:08.50).

Junior Ben Sommers had an inexperienced Warrenton team’s best time, grabbing 14th overall with a 19:13.76 mark. Other Warrior finishers were freshman Coalton Hill (50th, 22:22.02), freshman Deacon Forrest (53rd, 23:01.13), sophomore Thomas Hale (56th, 23:32.23), sophomore Logan Collins (24:43.98) and sophomore Ian Vacek (59th, 25:16.89)

St. Charles senior Thomas Doss took medalist honors with a winning time of 17:17.47.

Wentzville’s Holt High School, which had three top 10 finishers, including a second place by junior Aaron Eller, won the event as a team with 59 points. Rounding out the top five behind the Indians, were St. Charles (85), Francis Howell Central (91), last year’s winner Jefferson City (103) and St. Dominic (110).

Senior Lexi Frederick gave Warrenton a top 10 performer in the girls race, taking 10th with a 22:15.38 time. Following Frederick were freshman Madelyn Marschel (32nd, 24:40.56), senior Anahi Saldana (35th, 26:01.21), junior Emma Lewis (42nd, 27:12.01), senior Hannah Hoelscher (43rd, 27:12.16), freshman Mattison Halter (46th, 27:40.12) and junior Gabby Scruggs (48th, 27:56.18).

Holt senior Gracyn Pietrusinski recorded a time of 20:30.79 to bag medalist honors. St. Dominic had the race’s third, fourth and fifth best runners and finished with 58 points to win team honors with St. Charles (71), Jefferson City (76), Holt (76) and Francis Howell (79) making up the top five, and Warrenton coming in sixth with 169 points

Wright City doesn’t carry a girls team.


While the course’s bumps and hills offered up a challenge, things went smoothly enough for county teams at Elsberry’s Sun Valley Golf Course.

For the Warrior girls that meant a second-place team finish (53 points) with three top 10 runners — Marschel (fifth, 23:22.93), Saldana (seventh, 23:35.21) and Frederick (eighth, 23:38.04).

Frederick actually won last year’s Elsberry Invitational, but this year’s edition was more competitive, beefed up by the addition of a handful of more schools with 13 total.

Also contributing to Warrenton’s second-place team finish were Lewis (19th, 25:57.81) and Halter (25th, 26:43.52).

St. Clair was the only squad to outdo Warrenton with five harriers landing in the top 12. Ft. Zumwalt took third (76), followed by Orchard Farm (96), Clopton (128) and Highland (130).

Bruning (18:47.27) and Sommers (18:53.14) shined in the boys race, taking third and fourth, respectively. Culton’s mark of 19:35.62 was good for seventh.

St. Clair sophomore Case Busse earned medalist honors with a time of 17:47.51 and the Eagles of Orchard Farm won team honors with 30 points.




“Overall, our guys showed strong times at a much tougher Elsberry course after running Warrenton on Friday. Many have already hit new PRs this year and all have shown significant drops in time from the first race at a flat Van-Far course.

“Trent should be in the mix with the top runners at conference in a couple weeks, and Brandon is finally starting to find his racing stride after running a bit slower than he would have liked in the first couple races.   

“Our schedule has let us get some good work in during the week, and now that some cooler weather is finally arriving should help to see even more improvement.”


“The girls team has a good mix of seniors who have a lot of experience and some underclassmen who are doing pretty well. They have been working hard and it is going to be exciting to see how all of their hard work pays off. Lexi and Madelyn have been leading the way and it’s fun watching them push each other and to see who will be our top runner. The rest of the girls team is also running great. They are racing close to each other and there isn’t a lot of time between them. As we head into conference and districts this is going to be a very important factor on how well they do winding down. We need Lexi and Madelyn to run really well and then our 3-7 runners to close the gap between them. Anahi and Hannah are starting to run extremely well, which is great and will really help the team succeed. It has been a hot season and as the temperatures cool down I think it will really help them drop their times.

“The boys team is pretty young and they have little experience. Ben Sommers is our most experienced runner and is hoping to qualify for the state meet. Thomas Hale and Gus Klaustermeier are two others that ran last year. They both have seen a lot of improvement this year and they are working really hard. It’s fun watching everyone work hard and seeing them improve from previous years and also during the season. Everyone else is new to high school cross country and they are starting to get adjusted to the workouts, racing a 5K, and everything else. It isn’t an easy sport and you have to be mentally tough to make yourself work hard when your legs and everything else wants to stop.”

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