LIBERTY -- The Marshall cross country team picked up a pair of varsity medals Saturday during its traditional season-opener: the 40th annual St. Mary's Invitational at Liberty.
To say the meet was unusual for the Owls would be an understatement. It started when the windshield wipers on the team bus malfunctioned eight miles out of Marshall, requiring a return home for a new vehicle. The Owls didn't arrive at the William Jewell College course until 15 minutes prior to the start of the girls' race.
The lingering remnants of Hurricane Isaac made the grounds treacherous -- so much so that previous meet times were moot -- and even hurt Marshall when sophomore Ben Sporleder lost his shoe in the mud with a mile remaining in the varsity boys' contest.
Sporleder, a starter for Maryville last year, was running in fifth place at the time -- but without a finishing kick due to his shoeless state wound up tying for 12th place in the 78-runner field with a mark of 19:38.
Junior James Elfrink (22:47) was 61st and sophomore Zach Petzoldt (23:16) 67th for the Owls, who didn't field a full team. West Platte took the title with 50 points, although second-place Holden had the individual winner in senior Shaun Conrad (18:14).
Marshall only had one varsity girl complete the circuit, junior Roxana Avolos (26:09) coming in 24th among 55 entries for second career medal.
In her first cross country meet, sophomore Abigail Henke won the 2,000-meter novice girls' division, with freshman Bethany Choate placing 12th.
The Owls will take part in the Oak Grove Invitational on Thursday.
The Marshall girls' tennis team rebounded from a couple of early hits Tuesday to take a 9-3 NCMC home decision against Moberly.
The Lady Spartans (2-2, 1-2 NCMC), who returned six of their top seven players from a year ago, won two of the first three doubles contest to begin the match. Senior Naomi Lewis and junior Emily McCarter defeated sophomore Molly Evans and senior Stephanie Markes at No. 1 and senior Katie Matheis and junior Amber Morris downed juniors Amanda Harrelson and Idalia Aguilar at No. 3, both by 10-8 margins.
The Lady Owls wound up with a 4-2 lead after doubles play, thanks to 10-4 victories by freshman Taylor Crawford and junior Payton Beeler at No. 2 and seniors Kaylie Davenport and Ellen Woolsey at No. 5, the later duo coming back from an early 4-0 deficit by winning 10 straight games.
Seniors Sam Huston and Cortney Morrison took their No. 4 tilt, 10-5, while junior Savannah Simpson and sophomore Nichole Gann won at No. 6, 10-7.
Marshall was stronger during singles play, with Evans beating Lewis, 10-3, at No. 1 and Markes winning a 10-6 decision over senior Anna Warren. Crawford (10-6), Beeler (10-7) and Aguilar (7-2) -- whose match was shortened due to an injury to her opponent -- also won for the Lady Owls, the lone loss being a 10-6 decision for Matheis over Harrelson at No. 5.
The Lady Owls (6-0, 2-0) will continue league play Thursday at Boonville.
The Marshall boys' soccer team scored three unanswered goals Tuesday to beat NCMC foe Mexico, 4-1, on its home pitch.
After senior center defender Wilber Palma scored a rare goal on a free kick from near midfield to put the Owls ahead, the visitors evened the score two minutes later on a penalty kick from all-NCMC junior Christian McKeown.
However, Marshall would control most of the contest, out-shooting the Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1 NCMC) by a 13-4 margin. Sophomore Isai Trujillo provided a pass into the middle for a go-ahead goal by senior Ben Valencia, his team-high sixth of the season -- with 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Owls (2-2, 1-0) added to their lead during the second half on a long shot by junior Kevin Morales and Trujillo's conversion of a feed from sophomore Roberto Hernandez.
Marshall will be on the road Thursday to take on a Fulton club that's coming off its first win of the season, 3-0 over Boonville.