Platte County's girls approach the start line of the Gans Creek Classic on Saturday in Columbia. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Platte County developing even more depth on already experienced roster

Three seniors continue to pace lineup, which places 27th in Gold Division at Gans Creek Classic despite still not being at full strength.

At first glance, Platte County’s 27th-place finish out of 35 teams in the Gold Division of Saturday’s Gans Creek Classic in Columbia doesn’t outwardly show success.

The deeper look provides the evidence. While still not at full strength, Platte County’s seven runners averaged 21 minutes, 48 seconds on the course that will host the Class 4 Missouri State Cross Country Championships later this spring. That’s 11 seconds faster than last year’s group that placed 14th at state on the same trek.

Platte County senior Sisely Mitchell medaled for a second straight year, finishing seventh overall, but the Pirates’ lineup didn’t include junior two-time state qualifier Madison Palmer due to injury. Overall, the Pirates have seven runners with prior state experience but four factored into the team scoring and only five were in their top seven finishers, showing the developing depth of this season’s group.

Mitchell barely missed her second career sub-19 time at 19:01.30 and ended up less than 10 seconds off a career best of 18:51.40 at last year’s Gans Creek Classic that placed her second in the smaller Blue Division. However, she set a season-best and made good on a goal to push closer to last year’s form, which saw her continue to develop a profile as one of the best long-distance runners in program history.

After giving up volleyball and hockey for her falls as a sophomore to focus on cross country, Mitchell quickly started posting some of Platte County’s best-ever times, including back-to-back all-state finishes and peaking with her performance in last year’s Gans Creek Classic.

Platte County’s lineup includes at least one senior for the first time since 2020, and while Mitchell leads the way, the Pirates’ next two finishers were also fourth-year runners.

Carmen Gentilia (49th, 20:28.1) and Alex Beeman (189th, 22:50.4) were both off of their previous best runs on the course either at state or in prior editions of the Gans Creek Classic but continued to hold steady spots in the top half of Platte County’s finishers. However, the Pirates received a boost from sophomore Joanna Reil, who finished 206th in 23:16.5 — her best time on this course in three tries. That includes last year’s state meet when she subbed in for Palmer, who missed the race due to illness.

Platte County’s next two finishers were both sophomores who received a first look at Gans Creek. Nora McCoy rounded out the Pirates’ team score (213th, 23:24.6), while Maddie Stewart crossed the line next in 214th, a second behind her teammate in a personal-best of 23:25.6.

In addition, Platte County junior Annabel Beeman, another member of last year’s state team, also set a PR in 23:21.6, good for 218th place in a field of nearly 300 runners. The Pirates were able to race 10 total with junior Brooklynne Jenni (227th, 23:50.7), senior Marissa Orellana (232nd, 24:04.3) and Meredith Martinez (260th, 25:31.8) finishing outside of the traditional top seven.

Orellana has been to state each of the past two years but raced for just the third time this season since a return from injury and ended up more than 1:40 off of her career-best time from state last year at Gans Creek.

Platte County managed a team total of 613 and finished well in front of 29th-place Grain Valley, which topped the Pirates for last year’s Suburban Conference White Division title. The Pirates also hope to benefit from the return of Palmer, who has missed the last three races but in normal form would slot in between third and fifth in the lineup.

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