Talented Junior Continues to Improve

Shawnee Mission West’s Alli Cash enjoyed a very successful sophomore year. Cash finished 8th overall in the Kansas 6A cross country meet in the fall. She then went on to become the 1600 and 800 meter champion in the spring. Now a junior, Cash knows she has to work harder than ever to remain at the level she has been at for the last two years. That started this past summer.


Cash explains, “Over the summer I ran in the 400 mile club along with a few other girls and boys on the team. We each did a combination of running, biking, and swimming about 400 miles starting in the beginning of summer and finishing up right before the time trials.” 


The 400 club has defiantly paid off so far for Cash. She has seen her times drop considerably from last season. 


“The season has gone by really fast! I am excited for the remaining meets to come. Last year at this time, I had just run 14:53 (4k) at the Baldwin Community America Invitational. That was the first time I broke 15 minutes, which was very exciting to me!” said Cash.


So far this season, Cash continues to lower her PR for the 4k. In mid-September, Cash ran a new best of 14:15.64 while winning the Baldwin Invitational by nearly a minute. The winning time is also over a minute faster than her winning time from that meet her sophomore season. This season, the girls from Shawnee Mission West ran in the KC Metro Championships on the Ray-Pec XC course for the first time. Not only was it a new meet for Cash and her teammates, but the race was a 5k, different from the customary 4k race.


Cash says “Our team does not run 5ks so it was a new experience. For most of our team it was only the second or third 5k they had ever run. I broke 18 and I thought that was cool!” 


Cash finished second at the KC Metro Championships to defending Missouri class 4 state champion Samantha Nightingale from Blue Springs South High School in Blue Springs Missouri. This was not the first time Cash and Nightingale have gone head to head this season. They met earlier at the Rim Rock Farm XC Classic at Rim Rock Farms in late September. 


“Rim Rock has been my toughest race so far. I had been fighting a cold and had not been feeling great most of the week. But every race is not going to be perfect, so you have to work with what you have!” reassured Cash.


Even on a day that was not her best, Cash finished a strong third behind Nightingale and Maggie Montoya of Rogers, the defending state champion from Arkansas. 


With the postseason approaching, Cash has a few goals she hopes to make a reality. “My goals for state will be to have fun and try my very best! But it would be amazing to win the cross country state meet title, and that is defiantly something the team and myself are working very hard to achieve.” Explained Cash. 


She understands what needs to be done for her and her teammates to perform to their highest potential. 


Cash said “To perform to the best of our potential, we must work as a team, work together as a pack, and most importantly have fun. Coach Onnen has taught us something very important and that is that, ‘life is about the journey, not the destination."


As for the future, Cash is focusing on the near future instead of distant future. “I am looking forward to after the season when our team goes to the Nike regionals meet. That was a lot of fun last year. I do not have any plans for college yet. But I think running in college sounds like a lot of fun. I have heard a lot of good things! It is defiantly something that I would really like to do.”


College can wait. This junior from Shawnee Mission West has big things still to come while running in high school.



Also contributing to the story: Curt Wood