Mehlville High boys’ cross country coach delighted with progress of his Panthers

Twenty-five athletes take part in coach’s summer program.

Mehlville High boys cross country coach Dustin Pearce has more athletes out this year than ever before. Bill Milligan photo

Mehlville High boys’ cross country coach Dustin Pearce has more athletes out this year than ever before. Bill Milligan photo


Beginning his third year at the helm of Mehlville Senior High School’s boys’ cross country program, Coach Dustin Pearce still delights in his team’s progress.

“We’ve yet to send a runner to the state final, but I knew this was a ground-up proposition when I took this job,” he said. “Every year we’ve had something happen that shows the progress we’re making.

“That first year we had a girl that qualified to state and finished in the top 30. Last year at the Forest Park Invitational our junior varsity took first place. Those are the kinds of things we’re after at this point.”

This year he has more athletes than ever before, according to Pearce.

“We have 15 out at present with three or four more waiting to complete their physical,” he said. “I’m hoping for 20 this year.

“When I started we had less than 10 on the boys and girls teams combined. That’s a big improvement.”

Pearce had 25 participating in his summer program this year. The highlight was a camping trip to West Plains.

“We learned about their team approach to cross country. Even though they’ve won a lot of state championships, they don’t have tons of kids out,” he said. “Their kids buy into the concept of training hard all summer.”

As a high school cross country participant, Pearce said he wished he’d been ex-posed to the team concept earlier.

“When I was a senior at Springfield Park View we were the first team that had ever qualified for the state meet,” Pearce said. “If I had a team concept then, we could have walked away with a team trophy in-stead of finishing 11th.”

Attending the camp were senior Luke Robertson, junior Nick Zewiski, sophomore Drew Wohlschlager and freshman Brandon Larson. The girls’ team was represented by Hannah Seabold, Stephanie Vu and Belkisa Dautovic.

Pearce said his sophomore and junior runners reported to camp with a good base from their summer workouts.

“(Luke) Robertson really came on there at the end,” he said. “We’ve never had a qualifier for the state final from the boys’ side as of yet. In some ways it’s up to them how hard they want to work and how consistent they want to be.”

Mehlville Boys’ Cross Country

Sept. 1 Webster Groves Quad A 4 p.m.

Sept. 4 Jackson Invitational A 10 a.m.

Sept. 11 Forest Park Invitational A 10 a.m.

Sept. 18 Paul Enke Invitational A 10 a.m.

Oct. 1 Ron Jorgenson Inv. A 4 p.m.

Oct. 9 Conference Meet A TBA

Oct. 23 Districts A TBA

Oct. 30 Sectionals A TBA

Nov. 6 State A TBA