MHS Cross Country: Owls looking for third straight state trophy
Marshall seniors Michael McCampbell and Jeremy Glassmaker have accomplished much during their careers.
Yet they still have more they would like to achieve.
The Owls' cross country program has risen to among the best in the state among boys, finishing third in the MSHSAA Class 3 Championships the past two years -- with McCampbell and Glassmaker both medalling each time. Now they hope to crack through to the top, although to do so would require getting past such powerhouses as West Plains and Potosi.
"We have a lot of spots to fill if we want to get back to state and medal," cautioned Ted Denton, beginning his 18th season as head coach.
Indeed, Marshall lost some key contributors to their trophy runs when Josť Mercado and Chris Kuhn graduated and Derrick Eskew graduated. Mercado and Eskew medalled in nine of the Owls' 11 meets last season. At least junior Alex Jones is back, along with seniors David Fleming and Nathan Lockhart.
"Those are times that are going to be hard to get back," Denton admitted. "The others are going to have to drop some major time right now."
The bulk of Marshall's success, though, has been through the efforts of McCampbell and Glassmaker -- including the formation of "Roy's Runners," a group of athletes who get together to run every morning under the auspices of Roy McCampbell. This type of dedication has inspired others, so much so that the Owls now have 42 on their roster.
"The reason we have so many kids out is because they started this tradition," Denton noted. "There are no I's in 'team,' but there are two I's in 'winning,' and they are Michael and Jeremy."
Both of the seniors medalled in every meet last season, three times finishing 1-2 -- including during Marshall's second NCMC title in a row. It's more than their individual performances which count, though.
"They are willing to work with anybody and give them support," Denton said. "That's more important than the wins."
That's going to be critical this season as some key positions have to be filled. During Saturday's time trials, junior Jake Schulenberg and sophomores Jacob Diehm and Brandon Thiel were impressive -- as were three newcomers: sophomore Coldy Finnley, senior Drew Wood and freshman Jonathan Figueroa.
"This could change a lot when we get in those hills," Denton said. "We have to think about who can run those hills at state."
The Lady Owls have also gradually developed over the past couple of years, led by junior Madison Marshman -- winner of the Smith-Cotton meet and fourth in the NCMC.
Marshman and senior Brittany Wade were state qualifiers last year and are joined by returning starters in seniors Jessica Morton and Sarah Surface and sophomore Laura Musick. Junior Crystal Kearney and sophomore Regan Hartley, both new to the sport, are making bids to crack the lineup.
"We have some time to drop to get ready for the competition," said Denton, whose squad was fourth at district a year ago. "It's always been hard on the girls' side with Moberly in the conference and Warrensburg and [state runner-up] Notre Dame de Sion in the district."
However, with what Denton calls "a good core group of girls," the Lady Owls have a chance join the boys in making the trip to state as a unit.
"They're good athletes and they bring the drive they have in other sports," Denton remarked. "They're showing promise."