Houston runners wait at the starting line prior to the high school boys race last week at Willow Springs Municipal Golf Course. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

The first meet of the season went pretty well for Houston High School’s cross country teams, as both the boys and girls took third in their division in the annual Steve Waggoner Invitational last Thursday at Willow Springs Municipal Golf Course.

Competing against other squads in classes 3 through 5 (Houston is in class 3 again this season), the Tigers finished with a 5-runner team score of 87.

Leading the way was sophomore Jack Sawyer, who placed 20th in a field of 50 athletes with a time of 19:59.53 on the diverse 3.1-mile course. Next across the line for the Tigers was junior Connor McKinney, who finished 22nd at 20:08.18, while sophomore Warren Hinkle placed 23rd, senior Jake Allen came in 26th and junior Riley Talbott placed 28th.

Also running for Houston were senior Aiden Kelly (30th), freshman Dillon Shelton (31st), sophomore Jackson Evetts (39th), junior Ryan Painter (40th) and sophomore Shane Yonkers (49th).

A trio of Tigers run together on the course at Willow Springs Municipal Golf Course. From left, senior Aiden Kelly, senior Jake Allen and junior Riley Talbott. SUBMITTED PHOTO

West Plains topped the team standings, taking all of the top-5 spots to post a perfect score of 15.

Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers finished with a team score of 52.

Houston had two runners finish in the top 10 in the field of 27, as junior Kristen Ely placed 8th with a time of 24:26.01 and sophomore Natalie Clinton ran 9th at 24:48.66. Next for the Lady Tigers was sophomore Lilly Kincaid, who placed 16th at 27:01.24, while junior Summer Bittle came in 19th at 27:20.95 and junior Allie Benoist finished 22nd at 29:00.61.

West Plains won the team competition by taking 5 of the top-6 places to post a score of 16.


The Houston Middle School girls squad took first in the team standings at the meet with a score of only 33 points.

The Lady Tigers took the top 2 spots in the field of 71 runners, as 7th-grader Lyla Huffman completed the 1.5-mile course in a time of 10:12.43 and 6th-grader Myles Copley took second at 10:28.84 (close to 27 seconds ahead of the third-place runner). Rounding out the team score were 6th-grader Haley Crowe and 8th-graders Jesslyn Crawford and Jessyn Allen.

HMS runners Lyla Huffman (563) and Myles Copley run on their way to a 1-2 finish in the meet.

The HMS boys placed third in the team standings.

Leading the way for the Tigers was 6th-grader Oliver Choate, who placed 19th in a field of 96 with a time of 10:24.55. Next to finish for Houston was Charlie Benoist who was close behind Choate in 20th, while Liam Stickel finished 21st, 7th-grader Christopher Meier ran 31st and 6th-grader Tucker Richardson placed 34th.

Also running for the Tigers were 8th-graders Gage Smith and Thomas Kincaid.

Houston’s cross country athletes compete this week in a Thursday meet at Hollister and run again next Tuesday (Sept. 19) at Ava.

The Hollister meet offers a peek at the course where the HHS squads will compete in the Class 3 District 2 championships on Oct. 28.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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