Special to the Southeast Missourian
ST. LOUIS -- Notre Dame boys cross country coach Bill Davis was focused on Ste. Genevieve the last couple of weeks.
That was the team Davis figured his Bulldogs had to beat to make it back to the Class 2 state meet.
With defending state champion Herculaneum in the field at Jefferson Barracks Park for the Class 2 District 1 meet, from which the top two teams qualified to the state meet, Davis was intent on making it a match race with Ste. Genevieve for the second qualifying spot.
The Bulldogs finished second and didn't have to worry about the Dragons after all. Ste. Genevieve did not field a full team Saturday.
"I didn't know that until the race was over," Davis said. "We didn't think about Herculaneum at all. We were expecting Ste. Genevieve to run as a team, and that is what inspired us."
It probably wouldn't have mattered if Ste. Genevieve had a full team, as the Bulldogs ran well Saturday. With 41 points, the Bulldogs had a 39-point margin over third-place Kelly and finished just 12 points behind Herculaneum.
"We lost to Herculaneum by over 40 points on this same course in the Hancock Invitational," Davis said. "We talked about having five kids finish in the top 15 and that is what happened.
"It is great to have a plan and then see the kids follow it through. They executed the plan and got the job done."
Notre Dame junior Greg Kanneberg, who is one of three returning runners from last year's state team, led the way for the Bulldogs with a fourth place finish in 18:08.
"My goal was to finish in the top five, so I am happy," said Kanneberg, who was 13th at the district last year. "It feels great to get back to state as a team. Last year we had a lot of senior varsity runners. This year we haven't won near as many meets, but we ran well today when we needed to."
Senior Austin Critchlow (eighth in 18:36) and junior Matt Pfau (11th in 18:52) will make return trips to Jefferson City, Mo., on Saturday.
Senior Brian McCrate (14th in 19:04.97) and junior Cody Essner (15th in 19:09.91) also would have made it individually to state, as the top 15 individuals advanced along with the top two teams.
"I think Herculaneum is still the favorite to win state this year, and it gives us some confidence to finish as close to them as we did today," said Davis, whose team was second to the Blackcats last year at the state meet. "It would be great if we could come back with a trophy again."
Senior Michael Glastetter will be the lone Kelly boys runner at state. He was 13th in 18:58.
Ste. Genevieve junior John Boyd was the individual champion with a time of 17:34.
Kelly freshman Sarah Ruff is the lone local runner who will be competing in the Class 2 girls meet in Jefferson City. She finished seventh Saturday in 21:34.
Ste. Genevieve had six runners in the top 10 and won as a team with 26 points. Herculaneum was second with 39 points. Notre Dame was fourth with 104 points, while Kelly was fifth with 112 points.