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Tigers Birkeness, Rebello advance to state

Senior Noah Birkeness

November 3, 2017 – After a hotly contested Class 3 District 8 race two Tigers will advance to this weekend’s Class 3 Missouri State Cross Country Championships at Oak Hill Golf Course in Jefferson City.

Sophomore Michael Rebello and senior Noah Birkeness makes a return trip to the state meet after finishing 116th last year. Birkeness ran the race 18 minutes, 19 seconds a year ago.

“‘The faster I run, the faster I’m done,’ that’s my yearbook quote,” Birkeness said.

Birkeness has built on that over the course of the season. He has seen his time plummet by more than a minute from the first race of the year to a new personal best set at the Class 3 District 8 race at Smithville Lake. On his second attempt at the dam course his time dropped by 90 seconds to 17:25.6. His new goal is to break into the 16 minute mark in his final race in a Tigers uniform.

“My goal is to break 17 minutes,” Birkeness said. “Hopefully my adrenaline will help carry me there. Statistically speaking the state race is about 20 seconds slower than other races. But then you also have a factor that you’re at the state race, you’ve qualified there. Everyone else is running fast so you let that carry you through it.”

Bireness finished sixth at districts, 20 seconds behind Rebello who claimed a second place finish. Rebello also set a personal best on the day with a 17:03.8 run.

Birkeness has plenty of experience to run on after competing in the state race a year ago. He may have finished 116th, but his time was his fastest of the season. There were also 170 kids who took to the starting line on the No. 9 fairway.

“When you get there running there with those boys, they’ve all done something to prove they should be there,” Birkeness said. “The sheer pace of the race compared to all of the other ones is just nuts. Even taking corners is a factor at state because taking the inside of the corner vs. the outside of the corner you can have three kids pass you.”

Sophomore Michael Rebello

Rebello went along for the ride a year ago to experience the state meet. It’s a common practice for coach Brian Smarker who will bring a pair of underclassmen along with the competing pair this weekend. Sophomore Liam Greim is one of those making the trip after he narrowly missed out on an individual state berth. Greim finished in 20th with the top 15 earning state berths. The team narrowly missed out on a team state berth after finishing fourth. The team finished with 101 points, three behind third-place Maryville and eight behind second-place Cameron who claimed the automatic team qualifying spot. A couple of key absences left a few points on the table for the team.

Sophomore Zane Lohman finished 30th and freshman Caleb Hatfield rounded out the team score with a 54th place showing. It was Hatfield’s first varsity action after an injury kept senior Joel Courtney on the sidelines and a family emergency kept junior Cordell Allenbrand from the race.

On the girls side the team finished eighth running as a team for the first time. Freshman Paetyn Harvey was the Tigers top finisher in 26th place.

By Bryce Mereness • bryce@esstandard.com

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