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Lutheran St. Charles boys cross country squad races to victory at invitational

The Lutheran St. Charles boys cross country club win its second meet in two weeks with a first-place finish in the white division of the Forest Park Cross Country Festival Meet last Saturday, Sept. 14 at Forest Park. [MaryBeth McMullen photo]

Although it may only be mid-September, in just the first two weeks of the 2019 cross country season, the Lutheran St. Charles [LSC] boys cross country team has established itself as an elite group in Class 3 cross country that has big plans for this fall.

Eight days after winning the First Capitol Invitational, the Cougars turned in another top-shelf performance on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Forest Park.

LSC won the boys White Division of the 14th annual Forest Park Cross Country Festival with a first-place finish in the 22 team field. The win at Forest Park the second consecutive White Division team title for the Cougars.

The Cougars scored 69 points to take the top spot followed by second-place Albia [Iowa], third place Pekin [Iowa], and fourth place Pacific, which rounded out the top four team finishers.

“Yes, [the squad] is doing well for the start of the season,” Lutheran St. Charles coach Elizabeth Fruend said. “They’ve still got a lot of work to do but they are doing really, really, well.”

Sophomore Caleb Lind and junior Travis Fruend set the pace for the Cougars with a 4th and 13th place finishes. Lind clocked the course in 17:38.10 and Fruend ran the course in a time of 18:09.30. Freund was followed by the talented trio of junior Brody Hudson, and sophomores Sam Masa and Noah McMullen.

Hudson placed 24th [18:34.60], Masa placed 25th [18:38.90], and McMullen placed 26th [18:38.80].

That group gave the Cougars five top 26 finishers in the meet.

“I would say my five scorers are basically back from last year, so I’m blessed that we have that most of our scorers are sophomores and juniors,” Fruend said. “My lead runner right now is sophomore Caleb Lind followed by Travis Fruend, then I would say our three, four, five runners are very close to each other in time and that would be Brody Hudson, Sam Masa, and Noah McMullen.”

A week earlier on Sept. 6, the Cougars won first place in the boys’ blue division in First Capitol Invitational at McNair Park in St Charles.

LSC won the small five-team meet with 29 first place points. St. Charles [64], finished second. St. Charles West [66], Orchard Farm [79], and Valley Park [118] rounded out the rest of the team standings.

“It was a smaller meet, but then again, it’s nice when you can compete against teams in your own district,” Fruend said. “The boys wanted to do well against St. Charles and St. Charles West and they did a nice job.”

Lind led the way with a third-place finish [17:43.68]; Fruend placed 4th [18:15.51]; Hudson finished 6th [18:44.84]; McMullen came in 7th [18:51.63], and Masa gave the Cougars five top 10 finishers, finishing in 9th place [19:06.84].

According to Fruend, the Cougars early results can be linked to a more rigorous summer training program that included increasing the team’s workout mileage early on to get better conditioning. In previous summers, the workout program was hit and miss with the running. This summer, the workouts were made decidedly tougher.

“I call it training with a purpose because we are training with a plan and basically I came up with a plan and we’ve been sticking to that plan,” Fruend said.

The Cougars are running well, but Fruend is not letting them relax or lose focus as they begin to head into the second half of the season before districts arrive in November.

LSC will be challenged in the next few weeks by meets such as the Festus Bowles Invitational on Saturday in Festus as well as Gans Creek Classic on Sept. 28, and the Chile Pepper Invitational on Oct. 5 in Northwest Arkansas.

“They are starting off strong, but again I tell them all the time that trophies are nice and medals are nice but we have a lot more work to do and the work is not finished by all means,” Fruend said.

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