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Keeping the pace


Saturday, Sept. 2, Bolivar Cross Country hosted the SWCCCA meet for 2023.

This meet was started by Coach Richard Clark, a long-time Southwest Missouri University Cross Country and Track coach, back in 1985. “The meet had continued to grow over the years and in 2017 we were able to move the meet to Bolivar,” said Coach Ron Bandy. The meet was named after coach Clark to celebrate the tremendous impact he has had on the sport of Cross Country in Southwest Missouri.

Bandy says that with the help of the Municipal Golf course and the City Parks Department, Bolivar has one of the finest venues in the state of Missouri. This year just the Middle School through High School section of the meet had almost 1500 runners. The Chamber of Commerce with the help of Linda Bunch and the Marketing Bunch has coupled to bring in food trucks and help celebrate Bolivar.

“Pulling this off is definitely a City of Bolivar effort,” said Bandy, “Everyone pitches in.” SBU's Coach Corey McElhaney and his staff, the city of Bolivar, Ewing Concrete, and Bolivar Schools Maintenance Department with the help of Chuck Davis all have a role in making this meet what it is Bandy explains. Saturday was a great day for the Liberators.

The day started with the varsity women. Emma Howes led the team with a blazing 19:33 over the 5000-meter course. Right behind her finished senior captain Julia Jump, senior captain Ayden Spotila, and sophomore Tessa Ludden. In their Varsity debut, Freshmen Adelyn Carrel and Eisley Scowden rounded out the Liberator's top 6.

“The ladies team finished third in the meet of 60 varsity teams,” Bandy said.

The boys had a very solid performance led by senior captain Payson Reisner. Payson finished in 16:40 and right behind him in his varsity debut was freshman Landon Young finishing the 5k course in 16:42. Rounding out the top five for the varsity boys were freshmen Mac Rich and sophomore Knox Vestal and senior captain Evan Everson. “The boys team finished in 8th place in the team standings with roughly 60 teams,” said Bandy.

“I am very proud of both squads and I am very excited to see how they progress this season,” Bandy said.

“This is a HUGE first meet of the season,” said Coach Vicki McDonald, “athletes were excited, nervous, and challenged in this competition.” McDonald went on to say they would love to see the elementary open race continue to grow. It is a free event for anyone in sixth grade and below.

“Coach Bandy pours a ton of time and energy into making the event happen,” said McDonald, “ “but we would never be able to pull it off without the help and support of our Liberator runner families. We appreciate their help SO much.”

“The middle school race was massive with 500 plus middle school athletes racing,” said Coach Nathan Painter. “Myself and Coach Waters challenged the Bolivar middle school runners to run their hardest from the starting gun to the finish line and give us their very best. The guys' and girls' race was absolutely beautiful to watch as these Liberators challenged and pushed themselves in a commitment to team success. I am incredibly proud of the efforts shown on Saturday.”