Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hazelwood C. Girls Run with Best in Cross Country

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hazelwood C. Girls Run with Best in Cross Country

Article excerpt

Hazelwood Central High evokes many athletic memories.

Who can forget running back Tony VanZant loping and slipping deceptively across the football field? Remember fullback Mario Johnson powering his huge frame into the end zone? Or Demetrius Alexander slamming a basketball? Or the Central soccer team making a bid for one of several Suburban North Conference championships?

Now, think hard. Focus. Hazelwood Central girls cross country.

Doesn't quite have that lucid effect. That's not the fault of the team, though. Hazelwood Central has one of the most successful cross country programs in the area. The Hawks tradition was enhanced when they won the McCluer North Invitational recently. Central freshman Jill Smith was the individual winner, posting a time on the 2-mile girls course of 11 minutes 58 seconds. Teammates Gina Goris, a freshman, and Tara Muehlenbrock, a junior, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Central won with 58 points, followed by Hazelwood West (79) and St. Charles West (79).

Last Saturday, at the Hazelwood Central Invitational, Smith finished third behind Jefferson City's Emily Reid and runner-up Vincee Walz of Incarnate Word.

Tradition has bred success for the Hazelwood Central girls cross country team. Megan Thompson was a two-time state champion and a four-time state medalist in cross country for the Hawks. Thompson, a senior at Tennessee, still owns the fastest time on the 3.1-mile course at the state meet - 18 minutes and 16.8 seconds.

Additionally, Thompson won the Missouri Class 4A 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs all four years at Hazelwood Central.

Even so, beyond the cross country community - a family of coaches, athletes and students - many would be hard-pressed to identify the Hawks' success. It's a tradition etched in the history of Hazelwood Central sports.

It's the legacy of such runners as Thompson, Ann Heffner, Crystal Beiterman, Asa Ryberg, Lisa Wurth and Dana McReynolds - all former state medalists.

It's talent, said longtime coach Paul Enke.

Enke is in his 21st season as a coach at Hazelwood Central, but only his 13th as the girls head cross country coach.

"I've been around since the inception of the program," Enke said. …

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