Scott City's Shemonia captures elusive state cross country crown

Sunday, November 6, 2011
Brandon Shemonia sprints to the finish to claim his first state title Saturday at the Class 2 state cross country meet in Jefferson City, Mo. (CHRIS AUCKLEY ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Scott City senior Brandon Shemonia erased the doubt about his ability to win the big races Saturday.

Shemonia ran away with the Class 2 state cross country title by finishing almost 30 seconds before the second-place runner at the Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City, Mo.

"The whole last mile was pretty enjoyable for me," Shemonia said. "We had quite a bit of fans come up, about 20 to 25 people come up. They were all cheering me on. It was a great experience to go out in my high school cross country career and I could really soak it in."

Shemonia finished second in Class 2 the last two years, and he could feel the pressure mounting to earn his first state title.

"This is incredible," he said. "Getting second two years in a row put a lot of pressure on me to go out on top. To be able to finally pull it off after three years of hard work is just an amazing feeling. It solidifies my running career for me and really puts me on the map."

Saxony's Lutheran senior Sam Breite (341) runs during the first mile of the Class 2 state cross country meet Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo. (CHRIS AUCKLEY ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Shemonia covered the course in 16 minutes, 20.34 seconds.

"I thanked God and took a walk to the chute and all my friends were waiting for me," he said about the finish line. "I kind of celebrated and gave hugs. We were all just thankful that I could finally do it. It was a pretty good experience."

Shemonia helped the Rams finish 11th in the team standing. Luke Keesee was the Rams' second-best runner. He finished 86th in 19:09.57.

Shemonia said he was about 40th after the first 400 meters of the race, which was according to plan.

"I was feeling pretty nervous so I took it out pretty conservatively," he said. "But once I got that pretty good lead in the two miles, I was trying to get really excited to get to that finish line because I was pretty confident I had it in hand.

Scott City's Luke Keesee (345), Eric Essner (344) and Tyler Adams (342) near the mile mark during the Class 2 state cross country meet Saturday.

"I wanted to come out and run a hard second mile, which I did. Came through the second mile about 10:08, which is where I wanted to be. I ended up pulling up about 22 seconds between the mile and two mile. From there, I just kept pulling on my lead and heading for the finish line ready to finish."

He said he wasn't worried about starting slow because of the experience he's gained at big meets during his career.

"I think this year I definitely got my pacing a lot better," he said. "I'm a lot more consistent pace this year, and I've run a lot of big races and run really well there. So I have confidence with the big PR I got this year that I can still go out conservatively and still be able to control the race. I just didn't want to kill my legs early.

"I had a couple kids go out hard, but I stayed back. I was about 40th at the 400. It just gives you the extra pop on the backstretch that no one else has to be able to go out conservatively like that."

Shemonia said he likely benefited from an intimidation factor. His two second-place finishes and strong runs this season established him as a force in Class 2.

Kelly senior Juan Campos sprints to the finish line at the Class 2 state cross country meet Saturday.

"I've been hyped up pretty good around the state," he said. "I've been considered one of the top five, top eight runners around the state overall. It gave me quite a bit of confidence. I didn't want to get overconfident thinking everyone knew who I was. Technically, I think it was an advantage for me because they ran more of my race and I can control that race in the second half more and kind of intimidate people throughout, which is always good to have.

"I think they just kind of put it up in their heads bigger than it really is. On any given day, I think anyone can go out and win it. But they put theirselves down so much, it ends up being an advantage for me."

Shemonia's celebration was short-lived. He planned to return to training today for next weekend's Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Ind.

"I'm just going to take an easy jog out run, get about 4 or 5 miles in [today] and get a couple easy workouts then get some relaxed running in the next three days for once," he said. "Not much better I can get at this point. I just want to run really well at Nike. I probably won't qualify out, but I believe I can strongly be top 15 there."

Saxony Lutheran senior Sam Breite, who finished sixth at last week's district meet, finished 68th. That was 11 spots better than his 79th-place finish last season.

Woodland freshman Bailey Jones was the lone local competitor in the Class 2 girls race. She crossed the line 114th.

Class 2 results

Boys

Team standings -- 1. Herculaneum 123; 2. St. Pius-Kansas City 143; 3. Fatima 143; 4. Stockton 164; 5. Richmond 169; 6. Holden 174; 8. Bowling Green 186; 9. Lamar 206; 10. Lutheran-St. Peters 211; 11. Scott City 242; 12. Hollister 246; 13. Liberty-Mountain View 266; 14. Whitfield 293; 15. Hallsville 325; 16. Lutheran North 333

Local finishers

Scott City -- 1. Brandon Shemonia 16:20.34; 86. Luke Keesee 19:09.57; 97. Tyler Adams 19:17.68; 98. Eric Essner 19:17.86; 133. Jesse Perry 19:53.60; 170. Adam Bowers 22:00.53

Saxony Lutheran -- 68. Sam Breite 18:56.85

Kelly -- 137. Juan Campos 19:58.48

Woodland -- 150. Aaron Yount 20:17.94

Girls

Woodland -- 114. Bailey Jones 24:20.62

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