Gabe Bauer’s body gave him mixed signals Tuesday, but ultimately gave him the green light at the finish of the COC Championship.

Bauer breezed by Webb City’s Owen Weller during the final stretch run to secure a top-five finish. Bauer was clocked in 16:32 and Weller 16:33.

“I felt it for that last stretch,” said Bauer, an Ozark junior. “My body was like, 'You can do it, go for it.' I don't know if it was energy I still had or energy that just came out of nowhere.”

Bauer surprised himself a bit with his strong finish since he had been feeling fatigued from hunger for much of the last half of the race.

“I probably didn't eat enough,” Bauer said. “I didn't skip lunch, but it has been a while since I ate. I didn't want to eat too much and throw up. But I didn't eat enough, apparently. I had nothing left to burn after 1.5 miles. My body started giving out.”

Bauer still shaved :30 off his time from last year’s COC Championship. He was 10th a year ago. Willard’s Thomas Shuster improved from eighth in 16:52 last year to first in 16:12 this year.

Bauer hoped to make a bigger jump than he did.

“I wasn't going for a time today, just a place,” he said. ‘I wanted to be first, but that obviously didn't happen. But I got all-conference, so that's still a win.”

Nixa Wes Hatman topped the Eagles by placing seventh in 16:35.

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