LEE’s SUMMIT, Mo. — It’s a special piece of history for any high school.
The boys cross country team at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School just claimed the school’s first-ever state championship in any team sport.
Last Saturday, the Guardians ran home with the MSHSAA Class Three state championship, having won the overall event at the state cross country meet at Gans Creek in Columbia, MO. All seven of St. Michael’s competitors that day ran the 5K state event in under 17 minutes.
“I kept telling them their hard work was going to pay off,” Vince Fitzgerald, seventh-year head coach at St. Michael’s, said on Wednesday.
“It’s a great feeling. These guys are walking around with their heads held high. It’s a tremendous experience. They exceeded my expectations.”
The St. Michael’s squad is thought of as being a smart, patient team geared toward seeing multiple runners with big finishes.
“It’s been a goal for the entire season. Even last season, once we saw this can happen. I think it’s been a goal for so long, and to finally see it happen, it still feels like you’re dreaming about it,” Oliver Hotop, one of St. Michael’s runners, said.
“I am extremely proud,” Johnny Joyce, another runner who competed in the state meet, said. “People are going to continue to bring up that memory.”
A shot at title number two isn’t out of the real of possibility. The Guardians have 17 runners — and only two are graduating seniors. This means other cross country teams still have this opponent to chase.
Also from last weekend, Lafayette County won the MSHSAA Girls Class Two state championship in cross country.