Cross Country Prepares for District Meet

Drake Ives, Contributing Writer

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With the Cross Country season nearing its finish, the varsity team is shifting its focus from the regular season and will now be concentrating on having success throughout the postseason. The boys and girls on the team have been preparing for the district meet throughout the last 12 weeks at practice and by running throughout the summer before the season started.

The boys’ varsity team for the district meet is headed by senior Jessel Prabhu and junior J.P. Killian. Prabhu, being the only senior on either the boys’ or girls’ varsity team, is both excited and nervous for the upcoming race. “I’m excited about the race because each race is an opportunity to show how I’ve progressed and how far my training has gotten me through this season, but I’m also sad knowing that this will be my last season running for Pattonville and with my team,” said Prabhu.

Killian, the only returning boy state qualifier from last year’s season, aims to keep that streak going at the new State Course this year. “Our team has been working very hard in our workouts and in our races throughout the season to prepare for this meet. If we race to our potential, we have a chance to qualify for sectionals as a team. We’re in the endgame now,” said Killian.

Individually, both Prabhu and Killian have one main goal in mind for this meet: breaking under 17 minutes in the 3.1-mile race. Both Prabhu and Killian have gotten close to that mark, with personal bests of 17:00.71 and 17:03.44 respectively, but this time they intend to shave off the last few seconds needed to jump into the 16-minute range.

On the girls’ side, the varsity team is stacked with young talent, headed by junior Lucy N’dungu and sophomore Keith Wilkes. This duo has already had plenty of experience racing together in the past, finishing first and second in last year’s district race at Parkway Central High School.

N’dungu, a two time state qualifier, has already boasted historical numbers this season including a personal best of 18:55.44 in the 3.1 mile race, ranking her as the 7th fastest girl in Missouri for Class 4. “All the girls and I are really excited to go out there and give it our all for the District Meet. We had a chance to run the new course on Monday and I most definitely loved it. My goal for this meet is to go beyond and push myself to the limit. This is a process, and it is all in the hands of God,” said N’dungu.

Although Wilkes hasn’t exactly had the season that she hoped for because of a knee injury that kept her sidelined for 5 weeks, she hasn’t let that ruin her passion for the sport and her drive to be successful. “I’m excited about the meet, especially since it was moved to a flatter course this season. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve made it this far, especially after taking off 5 weeks at the beginning of the season because of my injury. Running hurts and is always a mental battle between the mind and the body, but not racing because of my injury would be holding my team back from reaching its full potential and possibly qualifying for state,” said Wilkes. Because of scattered injuries throughout the year, this weekend will be the first time that the girls’ team runs a full varsity squad, and will be the first time to see what their potential is when running together.

Wrapping up his first year, Boys Coach Matt McClellan has stressed the importance of staying focused at practice and running for each other during races. “When runners run for each other, they decide to put their team above themselves. Each team member has a responsibility to their teammates and is expected to sacrifice individual accomplishments for team success,” claimed McClellan. During the week of the district race, McClellan and his athletes examine the competition at the meet on Saturday and devise a strategy in order to have a successful race and prepare for the road to state.

The 5000 meter (3.1 mile) race will be this Saturday, October 26, at St. Vincent Park where the boys will race at 9:00 AM and the girls at 9:30 AM. The top 4 teams and top 30 individuals from that race will advance to the sectional meet at Parkway Central High School on November 2nd.

Take a look at the slideshow below to view who will be running in the district meet on October 26 and their personal bests so far this season.