Maryville cross country etched its name in school history with a third place finish at the MSHSAA Class 3 Cross Country State Championships Nov. 5 in Columbia, Missouri.
Emotions were at an all-time high for coach Rodney Bade as he earned the state trophy he’s eyed since his first year with the Spoofhounds.
“It’s kind of amazing,” Bade said. “It feels great. When I started coaching this program six, seven years ago, it was one of the dreams, I guess you could say. You kind of look and say, ‘How do we get a team trophy?’ We trained right, and it kind of seemed like everything just fell together this year.”
It has been a few days and some time to process what these boys did last Thursday. I will attempt to put my thoughts and feelings into words in the following tweets. It has been a season of rollercoaster emotions - from injuries to quarantines, nothing has been guaranteed pic.twitter.com/MiyT2pnL39— Spoofhound Running (@Spfhoundrunning) November 9, 2020
Weeks prior to the state championships, senior Garrett Dumke said he thought he was part of the best cross country team to ever come through Maryville High School. The ’Hounds strengthened his case by finishing higher than any Maryville team to qualify for state and scoring the least amount of points recorded at a state meet.
Dumke led the charge with an eighth place finish in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 16 minutes, 26 seconds and 40 milliseconds. Despite falling short of the school record that Dumke chased the whole season, he was glad to even be able to compete.
“Coming in, I was ranked eighth, so being able to place eighth was pretty accomplishing,” Dumke said. “Considering the circumstances of the race, it was very hot and with my bum ankle, I was very happy with my performance.”
Less than 24 hours before he made his individual shot for history, Dumke severely rolled his ankle during a cooldown jog after practice. The injury was so bad the whole team was worried if the senior would get to run his last race as a Spoofhound.
With nobody in quarantine and nobody injured, weight began to lift from Bade’s shoulders. However, finding the team in a heap of emotions on the floor of the weight room after practice Nov. 4 sent him on another rollercoaster.
“He was sitting there on the floor with ice on his ankle, in tears,” Bade said. “Talk about somber. The boys were silent. (Dumke) was in tears, and it didn’t look like he was going to run at all.”
Bade said it usually takes Dumke a week to shake off the ankle he rolls almost regularly. This time, it only took a night’s sleep and some electrical pulses from a StimPatch given to him from the school’s trainer. With every stop the bus took en route to Columbia, Missouri, Dumke’s ankle felt better and better, sparking hope in the team.
“It was important for the boys to see (Dumke recover),” Bade said. “Had he not started, it would have been a whole different race for them. My focus was how he’s doing, but then it was trying to make sure Jag (Galapin) and Cale (Sterling) knew where they were in reference to the top 25.”
With the top 25 finishers getting medals, Bade thought juniors Galapin and Sterling were capable of the all-state status. Galapin earned his all-state honors with a personal record time of 16:57.9 and a 14th place finish. He was excited with how his time helped the team, but not so much with the time itself.
“With my results, I’m a bit disappointed,” Galapin said. “The weather was too hot for state, and I feel like that affected my performance. I wanted to run a 16:40 because that was (Dumke’s) PR last year, but instead I ran a 16:57. We didn’t really run how we wanted, but we ran well enough for the team.”
On the other hand, Sterling fell short of earning the all-state title by two places and 4.4 seconds, finishing 27th. However, Sterling was able to run a new personal record as well with a time of 17:22.0.
Freshman Connor Blackford capped off his breakout freshman season by shattering his freshman record again in a time of 17:44.10, breaking his 18-minute barrier goal and finishing 41st.
The Spoofhounds’ No. 5 runner, senior Jake Walker, achieved his goals of breaking the 20 minute barrier and running with his team at the state meet. His time of 19:47.90 placed him at 135th, effectively elevating the ’Hounds to their third place seat.
All in all, coach Ferguson and I are just extremely proud of this group of runners and the groups before them that paved the way to this trophy. 7 years ago when we took over the program we hoped to just win a single meet as a team.— Spoofhound Running (@Spfhoundrunning) November 9, 2020
Sitting 400 meters away from the finish line, Bade anxiously awaited the arrival of Walker and the dust of team scores to settle. After watching Walker finish, Bade rushed to the finish line to see something unexpected.
“From a distance I thought, ‘That sure looks like Maryville. That name looks like Maryville in third,’” Bade said. “The emotions, the adrenaline surges and you start to get teary-eyed and excited. As soon as I found the guys, they were in tears or exhausted or throwing up — it was just every emotion.”
Similar to their coach’s shock, both Dumke and Galapin were in denial after the team scores finalized on the large Gans Creek scoreboard. That feeling of surreality followed the boys onto the podium.
“It was absolutely unreal,” Dumke said. “Going into the race, we knew we were going to be in the mix of the schools in between fourth and eighth. When we finished the race, it was super exciting. It’s always been a way out-there goal, and just being able to physically hold it and accomplishing such a feat, it was pretty amazing.”
“It was crazy to hold the team trophy,” Galapin said. “We came into this meet thinking we were going to get eighth place. Once we crossed the finish line, getting third was unbelievable. I couldn’t comprehend it, and I got a little emotional.”
Bade described the state meet as nothing short of miraculous. Between Dumke running on an injured ankle and Walker pushing the team to third, Bade said the team’s performance wasn’t his to take credit for.
“The kids run,” Bade said. “I never try to forget that and let them forget that. They’re the ones running, and I have the easy part, the planning and the strategy, all that stuff. At the end of the day, it comes down to their effort and their competitiveness. It’s 90% them and 10% me.”
Then the goal became the conf. meet, then the district meet and then we dreamed of a state trophy. All credit goes to our runners. They do the hard stuff. They do the not always fun stuff. They had the trust in each other and the guts to lay it all on the line. #proudcoaches— Spoofhound Running (@Spfhoundrunning) November 9, 2020
With his high school cross country career finished, Dumke reminisced his bittersweet ending to the season. Despite having to walk away with thoughts of how he could’ve run, he is still happy to have had the experience he got.
“Hands down the state meet was the most memorable,” Dumke said. “Just being on the stage with my teammates one last time in cross country, holding a state trophy; it’s a feeling that I want to hold with me for as long as I can.”