Saxony Lutheran runs to second straight title

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Etzold's second-place finish led three Crusaders runners into the top 20.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Saxony Lutheran boys cross country program has a long way to go catch West Plain's record of 12 state titles, but the Crusaders inched closer Saturday at Oak Hills Golf Center by capturing their second consecutive Class 1 state cross country title.

Saxony Lutheran has now brought home a state trophy in each of the program's three years of existence, placing fourth in 2003.

Saxony Lutheran coach Larry Cleair said he told the kids on the Crusaders' first team if they worked hard they could bring home a state title.

"About the third week of practice three years ago, I told the kids if they work hard they'll be state champs by 2005," he said. "They were fourth in 2003, we won it in 2004 and 2005. It just shows hard work pays off."

The Crusaders had four all-state runners in cruising to the title. Saxony Lutheran finished with 61 points, followed by West Platte with 120, Valley Park with 160 and Kansas City Lutheran with 178.

For the second year in a row Saxony Lutheran placed three runners in the top 20. Brandon Etzold, Saxony's top returner after finishing fourth last year as a sophomore, finished second to pace the Crusaders in a time of 17:07. David Goeglein of Kansas City Lutheran won for the second straight year in 16:52.

"I dropped 1 minute and 9 seconds off last year, he just dropped some time, too," Etzold said. "I felt good at the two-mile mark, then I hit the hill. I felt I ran as good of a race as I could."

In fact, Etzold had enough down the stretch to beat third-place finisher Clay Lincoln by nearly 2 seconds, catching him with a closing sprint. Etzold was third for most of the race.

"I saw it [the finish] and I just took off," Etzold said of the finish. "I heard people yelling at me I could catch him."

Etzold nearly became the first boys runner from Southeast Missouri to capture the individual state championship. Both the champion and third-place runners were seniors.

"From last year, that was kind of our plan for him to be a state champ his senior year," Cleair said. "We're going to organize the offseason workouts, so if he wants to work on his own, he can run through it. And he'll have his little brother pushing him."

Trey Maevers, one of three Saxony seniors running at the state meet, and sopohomore Max Wieser finished 15th and 16th, respectively. Peter Winningham, a junior, rounded out Saxony's all-state group in 23rd. Maevers and Winningham both finished all-state last year.

At one point in the race, Maevers, Wieser and Winningham were running all in the same group.

"It just happened that way," Maevers said. "We all train together. We're all at the same level. Me, Max and Peter were all there and we motivated each other, which was good."

Grant Lehmann rounded out Saxony's top five runners in 44th. Scott Schwiesow finished 64th for the Crusaders, and Andrew Etzold finished 76th.

"We knew if we ran decent, we'd have first place as a team, but you never know what's going to happen 'til you get there," Cleair said. "The kids ran really well from the No. 1 runner through the No. 7."

Maevers, Lehmann and Schwiesow will be the only losses for the Crusaders from this year's squad. Lehmann and Maevers were on last year's team, while Schwiesow did not run in last year's state meet.

Maevers said after the meet he wished he could come back and try for another title.

"I wish it every day," he said. "When I was a freshman, we didn't have cross country. It was good starting cross country for the school. I'm going to come back next year during college and watch them run."

Cleair said his seniors can take pride in knowing they helped get the program going.

"They'll have some good stories to tell their grandkids," Cleair said. "Hopefully 30 years from now they can come back to Saxony when it's a Class 4 school and winning state championships and tell the kids they were the start of it."

For the rest of the group thoughts of a third state title could not be far off.

"We do lose three seniors, but we hope our junior varsity can give us some good runners," Wieser said.

Saxony Lutheran finishers -- 2. Brandon Etzold 17:07, 15. Trey Maevers 18:06, 16. Max Wieser 18:06, 23. Peter Winningham 18:14, 44. Grant Lehmann 19:07, 64. Scott Schwiesow 19:40, 76. Andrew Etzold 19:55

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