9:15 PM

Justice Simpson (l) and Johnny Howard

Two members of the cross country team for Galena High School have found success in the teams inaugural year.

Senior Johnny Howard and junior Justice Simpson represented the school last month at the state finals in Jefferson City.

In order to compete, runners had to place in the top 15 in the district.  Howard fell short of the qualification but was "surprised" to learn he made the cut after runners from the School of the Ozarks were disqualified.

The boys, who began training last summer, say it was"grueling...but rewarding."

"A lot of it is mental," said Simpson, who placed 8th in district.

"It was a cool experience to run against kids that have been running since junior high in our first year as a team and making it to state," said Howard.

The boys, who placed 134th and 135th out of 170 runners, say their coach David Norman has been a positive role model both on the field and in the classroom.

According to the young men, there are several runners who should help the school shine in competitions next year with Ryan Cool, Jake Lafevers, Logan Harris and Justin Miller also training for the district.

Howard, who will graduate next spring is leaning toward attending college at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar where he plans to study to become an athletic trainer.

"I'm still on the ropes on what I want to do and where I want to go," said Simpson who has aspirations of a career in law enforcement.  "I'm definitely going to college though."

When asked to share one of the memorable experiences they had during the competition in the state capital both boys grinned and said "the girls."