Wrong turns can't slow down Shemonia in SEMO North Conference boys cross country race

Friday, October 14, 2011
Central's Brandon Bryant, left, and Jackson's Riley Talbut battle for third place position during Thursday's SEMO North Conference cross country meet at Jackson City Park. Talbut finished third and Bryant was fourth. (Fred Lynch)

Brandon Shemonia had a somewhat difficult time finding his way around the course.

That didn't prevent the Scott City High School senior from winning his second consecutive SEMO North Conference cross country title.

Shemonia finished Thursday's 3.1-mile race at the Jackson City Park in 16 minutes, 4.54 seconds to ease past his good friend, Central junior Billy Leighton.

"I was looking to break 16 [minutes]. My legs didn't feel it," Shemonia said. "But I still had my kick."

While Shemonia's legs didn't feel as strong or fresh as usual, something else might have prevented him from breaking 16 minutes.

Scott City's Brandon Shemonia, left, and Central's Billy Leighton run together early during Thursday's race.

"I ran the wrong way a couple of times," Shemonia said with a smile. "The old course markings were still there, and I've never run a 5K here before."

Shemonia figured it was better to get his problems navigating the course out of the way now.

"We've got districts coming up here [later this month]," Shemonia said. "I'll know the course now."

Shemonia and Leighton, who finished in 16:06.75, waged a two-man battle most of the way after they broke away from the pack early.

Shemonia's kick ended up getting the best of his buddy.

"We're good friends. We run together and talk all the time," Shemonia said. "About the 2 3/4-mile mark, I started kicking it on pretty heavy."

Shemonia, who was runner-up at the Class 2 state meet the past two seasons, was happy to defend his title regardless of his time.

"It's a good feeling to win two in a row, and also getting second my sophomore year. I wanted to go out on top my senior year," Shemonia said. "And it's good for Scott City, considering we only started our program three years ago."

Leighton seemed only slightly disappointed after he also failed to reach his goal of breaking 16 minutes.

"It was pretty good. I was hoping to go under 16, but I was pretty close," he said. "Me and Brandon are good friends. Unfortunately he seems to always come out on top."

Leighton also will run the same course during the Class 4 district meet Oct. 22.

"Hopefully I can get under 16 and be district champion," he said.

Jackson won the team title with 45 points, well ahead of Notre Dame's 61. Defending champion Central finished third with 79.

The host Indians were led by senior Riley Talbut's third-place performance. His time of 17:19.02 was way off the pace set by Shemonia and Leighton, but he didn't expect any different.

"It was probably my best race against this type of competition," Talbut said. "I knew those two guys were pretty much out of reach. They're on their own level.

"For the team to finish first, that was great. I thought we had a pretty good chance."

Rounding out the top five were Central's Brandon Bryant and Jackson's Matt Gibson.

Team results -- 1. Jackson 45; 2. Notre Dame 61; 3. Central 79; 4. Poplar Bluff 82; 5. Scott City 84.

Top 10 (all-conference) -- 1. Brandon Shemonia (SC) 16:04.54; 2. Billy Leighton (C) 16:06.75; 3. Riley Talbut (J) 17:19.02; 4. Brandon Bryant (C) 17:37.88; 5. Matt Gibson (J) 17:48.15; 6. Bailey Davidson (PB) 17:57.57; 7. Cole Ross (ND) 18:02.37; 8. Luke Pelton (PB) 18:06.28; 9. Calvin Lysell (J) 18:12.47; 10. Jacob Meadors (ND) 18:19.15.

Local teams top five

Jackson -- 3. Riley Talbut 17:19.02; 5. Matt Gibson 17:48.15; 9. Calvin Lysell 18:12.47; 13. Ray Hecht 18:21.33; 15. Nate Martin 18:23.57

Notre Dame -- 7. Cole Ross 18:02.37; 10. Jacob Meadors 18:19.15; 11. Michael Peters 18:19.75; 14. Nate Lincoln 18:22.97; 19. Adam Raines 18:44.01

Central -- 2. Billy Leighton 16:06.75; 4. Brandon Bryant 17:37.88; 16. Riley Duncan 18:25.35; 30. Hezekiah Wood 20:04.60; 31. Tim Heinsman 20:10.35.

Scott City -- 1. Brandon Shemonia 16:04.54; 12. Eric Essner 18:20.59; 20. Luke Keesee 18:54.63; 26. Tyler Adams 19:49.03; 28. Jesse Perry 19:57.83.

Kelly -- 25. Juan Campos 19:41.49.

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