Zumwalt West got nudged out of a top four qualifying spot by Timberland last Saturday at McNair Park in St. Charles.
The Jaguars finished with 139 points on the day.
“I thought, from where we were at in the beginning of the season and knowing we were going to be mostly young on the varsity team, the kids came a long way,” Zumwalt West coach John Cunningham said. “We tied for first [with Francis Howell] for the GAC conference; for the district, it’s the top four teams that advance to the sectional. We came up a little bit short, in fifth [out of 13 teams] so when you look back on the season, it ended up being a really good one for these guys.”
Although the Jaguars did not make the cut as a team, they will have two individuals in this weekend’s Class 4 sectional meet in Jefferson City.
Senior Cameron Sakuma clocked the District 4 qualifying course in 16:53.05 to finish 12th in the race. Sophomore Bennett Boatman also qualified with a time of 17:18.84 earning him a 23rd-place finish.
Sakuma’s performance was a major bright spot for the Jaguars given his strong performance over the past four years at West.
“Cameron as a senior, he’s just simply been one of best guys of my tenure at West,” Cunningham said. “He had some struggles as a junior and he just rededicated himself to the sport and now he’s had the sixth fastest time of anybody in the history of the program.
“He has a great chance to move on to the state championship if he can duplicate what he’s been doing all year.
Boatman has been nothing short of superb as a sophomore.
“We knew he would be good as a freshman but you don’t know quite how they are going to improve the next year,” Cunningham said. “He’s had a tremendous year – nearly breaking 17 minutes and then qualifying for the sectional.”
Heading into the sectional on Saturday morning at the Jefferson City Fairgrounds, Cunningham believes that Sakuma and Boatman will push each other and give themselves a great chance to qualify for the state meet.
“Both Cameron and Bennett are training partners, so they work together every day,” Cunningham said. “In a good portion of the races this year, Bennett has been within a few seconds up or down of Cameron’s performance.
“He was off that [last] Saturday, but I expect he’ll bounce back and he’ll have a good shot to qualify too. I’m excited to go out there and see what they’re going to do Saturday.”