For the eighth year in a row, the Lafayette boys cross country team will travel to Springfield, Missouri to compete in the MSHSAA Class Four Cross Country State Championships.
In those eight years, the team has placed in 5th, 4th, three times in 3rd, and won the State Championship in both 2014 and 2015.
Over the years, the mental and physical preparation for State has been very similar. But for this year, Head Coach Sean O’Connor attributes it to the hard work that was done all the way back in June. “They’ve put in a lot of time, miles and hard work to get to this point,” O’Connor said. “The entire team has worked really hard and pushed each other to be the best they can be.”
The team this year was also different. When the team placed 5th in State last year, there were more seniors who led the team. However, with fewer seniors who are competing, there are new runners ready to stand up and lead this team.
Two of them are seniors Aiden Murphy and Alex McMillen.
McMillen has been running with the team ever since freshman year, and has seen change throughout the last four years. “It’s definitely been a big change in the team dynamic,” McMillen said. “Last year I didn’t think of myself as a leader, but now I’ve taken that role on as one of the older members of the team.”
Despite a knee injury that caused him to stop running a month ago, McMillen still placed 13th at Districts and 36th at Sectionals, allowing the Lancers to keep moving forward to State.
“I’ve been performing well, but not as well as I would’ve liked to at the beginning of the season. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not going to run as well, but I’m doing my best to help contribute to the team,” McMillen said.
In Districts, the Lancers placed in 3rd, and then went on to place 2nd in Sectionals. However, they hope to move past that and rank 1st. “This year, we’ve really struggled with having all five of our top runners place in the race,” McMillen said. “We’re hoping that at State we can put together a good race where we all have a good day, and I definitely think we can get into the top four.”
The team will race at 12:05 p.m. on Nov. 9.