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Central’s Mason Orscheln competes in the Class 4 Sectional 4 meet on Saturday.

After a long offseason and regular season of running countless miles, Missouri cross country athletes are preparing for their final meet of the 2019 fall season as the state meet is this Saturday in Columbia, Missouri. Central boys and St. Joseph Christian girls have qualified as a team for state, along with individual runners from other city schools.

This is the second straight year that Central’s boy’s team has qualified to be in the state meet, and for the second year they only have one senior on the team. The Indians are returning multiple runners and feel privileged to make it back.

“It is an honor to run with this team and go to state,” junior Damion Mujica said. “Just the aspect of us going in back-to-back years is a feat, and it’s really a blessing and an honor that we aren’t taking for granted.”

Central’s boys finished 12th at the Class 4 State Meet last year, and knew that they had the capability to make a run to return to state when this season started. They finished in fourth place as a team last weekend in the Class 4 Sectional 4 Meet, and are looking to use their experience from last year to their advantage.

“We’ve had some teams in the past only go once as a group, so it’s great that a lot of these guys get to go again,” Central head coach Bob Miller said. “It’s hard in a state meet because people don’t die off, they’re all pretty good. We just have to keep doing what we do, and let the results land where they may.”

The Indians have yet to take home the first place trophy in Coach Miller’s 12 years at Central, but they have made multiple trips to the state meet and are optimistic about this year.

While Central is representing the city of St. Joseph in consecutive years, they aren’t alone. St. Joseph Christian’s girls are headed to state for the fourth straight season.

After finishing third last season in Class 1, the Lions had a strong season where they finished in first place at the Class 1 District 8 meet. The Lions also have an individual runner for the boys team, as Foster Scheerer finished 15th in the district meet.

Zac Miller, who ran for Central in 2012 when the team finished fifth at the Class 4 State Meet, has been the assistant coach for Central in recent seasons and has some advice for the state bound runners.

“Now that I’ve taken a step out of my own running career and am able to invest in some other runners, it makes me even more excited to see them accomplish stuff than when I accomplished stuff,” Zac Miller said. “I think the main thing that I’m going to preach this week is to enjoy the moments. Something you realize after it’s over is that these moments don’t come very often so to not take them for granted and to make the most of them.”

Quinn Lowe is the lone state qualifier for the Lafayette boys and Emerson McChristy will be representing the Bishop LeBlond girls, as well.

Tanner Cobb can be reached at tanner.cobb@newspressnow.com