For just the second time in what long ago became one of the best careers in program history, Sisely Mitchell broke the 19-minute mark in a race, doing so in one of the Midwest’s largest meets.
Platte County’s senior No. 1 placed 47th in the Chile Pepper Festival’s field of more than 600 runners Saturday in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She set a season-best at 18 minutes, 53.30 seconds and ended up less than 2 seconds away from a PR she set in the 2022 Gans Creek Classic.
Mitchell had not been able to go below 19 minutes in the time since posting an 18:51.40 just over a year earlier. She went 19:01.30 in her return to Gans Creek on the weekend ahead of Platte County’s first trip to the Chile Pepper Festival after fundraising supported the unique trip south. The Pirates ended up placing 39th out of 78 qualifying teams.
Of the eight runners for Platte County, sophomore Nora McCoy and junior Brooklynne Jenni set PRs while building on relative inexperience. McCoy ran just her fifth career race and finished in 22:36.70 (392nd overall) but cut about 30 seconds off her previous best from the Raymore-Peculiar Invitational last month. Jenni’s fourth 5k of the season resulted in a 409th-place showing at 22:47.30, shaving more than 36 seconds off her previous career-best set in the sesaon-opening Tim Nixon Invitational.
Both were in the top five for Platte County and factored into the team scoring. Carmen Gentilia, the second standout senior at the top of the Pirates’ lineup, placed 118th in 19:45.00 and broke the 20-minute mark for just the second time in her career. She was just off the PR of 19:37.00 she set at the Tim Nixon Invitational when she became just the seventh runner in program history to post a time below 20 minutes, joining Mitchell who is one of just two to post a sub-19-minute time.
Platte County senior Alex Beeman placed 399th (22:39.10) and slotted in between McCoy and Jenni. The Pirates also sent junior Madison Palmer (421st, 22:52.30) in her return after missing a pair of races due to injury and sophomores Joanna Reil (458th, 23:15.20) and Maddie Stewart (479th, 23:33.50) in what has become a deep and competitive lineup.
Stewart came across the line just off the PR she set a week earlier in the Gans Creek Classic.
Platte County’s roster includes seven runners with prior experience in the Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships. The Pirates have qualified for a team each of the past three years but has ran seniors in the varsity lineup for the first time since 2020. Those who have run at state include Mitchell (twice), Gentilia (three times), Palmer (once), Alex Beeman (twice) and Reil (once) in addition to senior Marissa Orellana (twice) and junior Annabel Beeman (once). Orellana continues to deal with a nagging injury, while Annabel Beeman has been in and out of the varsity lineup as others have pushed for time.
Palmer qualified as a freshman and sophomore but did not run in 2022 due to illness.