Westminster Cross Country Program Takes the Spotlight!

Four girls qualify for state while boys’ past success brings adversity with class movement.


Courtesy of Nile Heefner

Sabrina Holohan, Kate Van Zee, Kharis Perona. and Annessa Shively pose with their All-District medals.

When the Westminster girls cross country team ran in districts on Friday, October 30th, many of them had never raced in a postseason meet before then. Despite their lack of experience, they ran exceptionally well, as Sabrina Holohan, freshman, finished ninth, Kate Van Zee, sophomore, finished tenth, Annessa Shively, senior, placed eleventh, and Kharis Perona, junior, placed fifteenth. All of these girls individually qualified for the Class 3 state meet.

“I think the race went really well. Everyone worked so hard and left everything on the course. Sabrina and Kate really stepped up and have been pushing me and the rest of the team to be faster all season. I’m really proud of the whole team and super excited to see how we do at state,” said Shively.

The girls almost qualified as a team as well, missing out by a margin of only four points.

“We thought this was going to be a rebuilding year, but instead the girls team doubled in size and competed really well all season! At the district meet, it was obvious we were in a position to be one of the top two teams to qualify for state, but it was going to be close. It was also obvious that we were going to have 3-4 individual runners qualify for state! Well, as a team we missed qualifying for state by only 4 points! We scored 63 points, placing 3rd while the 2nd place team scored 59 points. It was such a close race that gives us hope for great things to come next season!,” said Nile Heefner, head coach.

Likewise, the boys team has faced a lot of adversity over the past few months. After placing fifth in Class 3 last year, the boys returned all of their top five runners in hopes of finally bringing home a state championship. Instead, due to their success, they were moved all the way to Class 5 amongst the biggest schools in Missouri. To top it all off, the district they were placed in was one of the hardest ones in the state.

The boys battled hard against these teams on an extremely rain-soaked course as Colin Ring, senior, barely missed out on qualifying for the state meet, finishing in the dreaded sixteenth place (two seconds behind fifteenth), Hunter Freiner, senior, finished in 29th, Hayden Turley, senior, finished in 32nd, Thomas Gorline, senior, finished 41st, and Andrew Gorline, freshman, rounded out the top five in 57th.

“The course was definitely not ideal due to the muddy and wet conditions, but I’m still glad that the team and I were able to participate among some of the best runners in the state and prove that we were a force to be reckoned with,” said Turley.

Despite one of their top runners, Luke Beachy, junior, suffering an injury mid-race and Connor Venneman, sophomore not running because of an injury, the boys still managed to defeat Eureka, a high school containing 1,800 students, by 35 points.

The individual qualifiers from the girls team run in the state meet on Thursday, November 5th.