Maryville cross country witnessed another successful Saturday as three of the Spoofhounds’ top five runners reached new milestones in their high school careers Sept. 26. With the team split apart, an opportunity for growth presented itself to each athlete.
The large pack of ’Hounds made a 90-mile journey to Kansas City, Missouri, to compete in the SPX Cross Country Invitational Sept. 26. Coach Rodney Bade said this meet was a good challenge for juniors Jag Galapin and Cale Sterling.
“It was nice to see them leading the race and under that kind of pressure,” Bade said. “For Cale and Jag, it was more of an opportunity to win a meet. Having their teammate elsewhere, this was an opportunity for them to place really high and also know what it feels like to be in the lead.”
Bade said he was happy that the two juniors were able to feel the stress of setting the tone and keeping in front of the herd, something these runners aren’t necessarily accustomed to yet.
“That was the biggest thing for Jag and Cale,” Bade said. “‘What does it feel like to be one and two?’ Always finishing third or fourth or fifth, you kind of don’t have as much stress, but when you’re leading a race, it’s a whole different feeling. All of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh crap, I’m in the lead. What if I fall apart? What happens if someone catches me? What am I gonna do?’”
As much as these thoughts may have wavered in Galapin and Sterling’s minds, it didn’t stop them from a one-two finish in the 5,000-meter run. Galapin was first to rumble across the line with a time of 18 minutes, 34 seconds and 8 milliseconds, securing his first individual win of his high school career. Sterling snagged a second place finish, rolling through the line with a time of 18:51.5 and capturing his best individual finish in a high school meet.
Despite being happy with winning, Galapin wasn’t all that comfortable with being in front for a majority of the race. Some woes of leading that Bade mentioned ended up setting in.
“It was very unnatural (to be in the lead),” Galapin said. “Most of the race I was slowing down so I can have people right in front of me, so I can pace it. Usually, at bigger meets, I’m not always leading the pack, so I always have that mentality of having someone in front of me and pacing behind them. In the race, it was so unnatural because I had to set my own pace, kind of like I was running blind.”
Galapin said he was also unhappy with St. Pius’s course, especially in comparison to the course in Pella, Iowa.
“The ground was terrible and had holes,” Galapin said. “There were some places where we had to cross cement, which was not a good idea. St. Pius, unlike Pella, just had steep hills and steep downhills. There was no steady uphill. It was all up, down, flat and that was it.”
Running course landscapes have a great impact on how well a runner performs. For comparison, Galapin ran 54.8 seconds slower at St. Pius than what he posted in the Heartland Classic Sept. 19.
Likewise, Sterling saw a 1:03.8 increase from when he ran on Central College’s course. However, both Spoofhounds were able to outlast the high and lows of competition and put away the rest of the field.
Meanwhile, senior Garrett Dumke embarked on a one-spoofound mission to compete in the Gans Creek Classic Sept. 26 in Columbia, Missouri. The race was held on a brand new course, specifically made for the MSHSAA Cross Country State Championships.
Bade said he had planned for the senior to run in this meet since the Missouri Southern High School Stampede was canceled Sept. 19.
“We were seeking other places for him to run fast,” Bade said. “Being a senior, we felt like it was appropriate for him to get a little special consideration, I guess you could say.”
In the most competitive group of the meet, Dumke finished 13th out of 136 with a time of 16:23.9. The race proved to be something special, as he shattered his own personal record by 14.2 seconds and came within 5 seconds of breaking the school’s record, positioning himself as the second fastest runner in Maryville history.
“Going into the meet, I definitely had lower expectations for myself,” Dumke said. “Going in, I thought I would place around 50th, 60th place, knowing I was going against all these big schools. I definitely surprised myself coming out of this meet.”
Before the race, Dumke told himself that he would have to push harder than he ever has, he said. He knew what time he was chasing, and he went after it. At the conclusion of the race, feelings of fulfillment rushed through his body as he realized the extent of his running capabilities.
The course Dumke ran on was constructed to be fast, so there’s no surprise that he would’ve done well on this course. Dumke thinks the next time he will run this fast, it will be on this same course in November.
“I probably won’t be seeing another PR until state,” Dumke said. “At Gans Creek, it was a very hot meet. So when we go back to the Gans Creek Course for state, it’s going to be a lot cooler and nicer, so I’m really looking forward to seeing if I can PR again on that course at the end of the year. ”
Bade, Galapin and Dumke all know that the next few weeks aren’t filled with the fastest courses, so their priorities are downshifting from running fast to staying healthy.
“The following weeks, I’m trying just to not get injured,” Dumke said. “I’m going to keep training week by week, and keep improving as a runner. As for races, I’m basically looking for placement, not for time.”
“Right now, the plan is to have everybody healthy and go win a meet as a team,” Bade said. “That would be nice, but the reality is, if we don’t win anything until conference, then it just is what it is.”