Amid the laughter and light-heartedness that typically accompanies the Wright City boys cross country team loomed a more somber mood last Friday evening.Settling into their hotel room the night prior …
Wright City Boys Finish Eighth at State
By Derrick Forsythe, Record Sports Editor
Amid the laughter and light-heartedness that typically accompanies the Wright City boys cross country team loomed a more somber mood last Friday evening.Settling into their hotel room the night prior to their final prep race, the Wildcats took on an alternate demeanor.“I noticed even Coach (Sue) Wright was quieter than normal,” recalled Cody Klemp.They knew regardless of what Saturday’s MSHSAA Championships had in store, it would be a bittersweet experience.“It’s an emotional situation when you have those guys for four years,” acknowledged Wright.For most, the race was full of personal career achievements. For others, not so much.As a team, the Wildcats finished eighth — short of their goal of placing among the Top Four and earning All-State status.“It wasn’t like we got our hopes crushed,” said Zac Murri. “We still ran a good race.”But the only number that really mattered on Saturday was seven — the number of seniors who have gradually come together to form the school’s most successful team in school history.“After the race I bought a Coke and candy bar, and Austin (Marsh) and I had a toast to our last cross country race ever,” said Brenden Gierer, one of three four-year varsity runners.Gierer knows the development of this team as well as anyone.He has watched a program of little recognition draw interest from athletes known for starring in other sports.“I always tell kids that you’re the best ambassador to the sport,” said Wright. “Somewhere along the way they’re showing young kids the fun and success of running, and they’re coming out.”And while those athlete haven’t abandoned their other commitments, they have achieved newfound success on a 3.1-mile course.“I’m definitely glad I joined,” said Klemp, who enjoyed two seasons. “I love this team, and I don’t think you can find another one like us.”Marsh and three-sport athlete Ben Randolph joined as sophomores, and the team most recently acquired Dallas Deroy.He was initially looking for a means of building stamina for baseball season. What he found was an irreplaceable life experience.“It was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made to join this team,” said Deroy, who led the team with a 37th-place finish. “I can say forever that I was a part of the champion cross country team.”Deroy ran a personal-best 17:54, falling 12 spots shy of a medal.He had a unique strategy, getting ahead of the pack early and making an effort to hold off passers in the final two miles.“I’m a way better sprinter than distance runner, so I try to get out as far as I can and limit the damage on who passes me,” said Deroy. “I think that worked pretty good today, because it’s been my goal this year to break 18, and I finally did at the state meet.”Randolph finished with his most elite effort as well, running an 18:07 to place 53rd.“Today was my best race of the year,” said Randolph. “I was pretty excited about how I ran, getting six places higher than I did last year.”Anxiety got to a few of Wright City’s runners, including Marsh and Jackson Bruening.“The nerves were there to knock me down at the starting line,” said Marsh.But they overcame those initial jitters.“I felt pretty good about how I ran,” said Bruening, who ran a 19:49 to place 146th. “At the beginning I wasn’t doing too well, but I stepped up and started passing people later in the race.”Marsh clocked an 18:40, finishing 83rd.For Klemp and Zac Murri, it wasn’t a milestone day personally, but they weren’t holding onto the individual disappointment.“I ended up not doing so hot,” said Murri, who claimed 156th-place in 20:23. “Everybody has their off days. Mine just happened to be my last race, which is unfortunate.”Klemp ran a 19:03, placing 113th.“It’s not really what I wanted, but I know I ran as hard as I could,” said Klemp. “And I finished better than last year.”The six seniors that competed at last year’s MSHSAA Championships improved drastically across the board.“When everyone takes a minute off their time from last year, you can’t really complain,” said Marsh.
The Wright City boys cross country team finished eighth at the MSHSAA Championships.