A much anticipated battle between St. Thomas Aquinas and St.
James Academy never really materialized in the Class 5A girls state
championship race as Aquinas turned the tables on a team that had beaten it
twice this season.
St. James Academy was not able to put together the tight
pack that has been its signature during its rise to the top of the state ranks
this year. Aquinas put its fifth runner in front of St. James' fourth runner to
run away with its fifth consecutive Class 5A girls title.
St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Olivia Sovereign -- state
runner-up last year -- won the 5A crown this year with a time of 19:28. She beat
last year's state champ -- her teammate, Margaret Pigott, who put on a strong
kick to place second in 19:39. Mill Valley's Britton Nelson was third in 19:51,
followed by Great Bend's Karen Razo (19:55) and St. James' Carlie Yunger.
"I don't believe it," a soft-spoken Sovereign said
afterwards. "I had a really rough season and it just feels amazing to be up
"It's awesome," Pigott said. "I'm just really glad to have a
teammate in front of me. I know that Olivia was not feeling good most of the
season so I was running by myself for most of the season, but I'm really glad
to have her back."
St. James Academy, which had posted pack times of 18 seconds
at league two weeks ago and 28 seconds at regionals last week, wasn't able to
keep the pack intact this week. The squad had a pack time of 1:10, which
allowed several runners to add team points to their final score.
"They are the biggest rivalry for our school," Sovereign
said. "We just wanted to come out and beat them, but if we didn't, as long as
we tried our hardest, it would be good."
Pigott, too, showed appreciation for the St. James' squad.
"In previous years, we've been on top and have not had a lot
of teams come and try to compete against us (in Class 5A), so it's kind of
different for us this year," Pigott said. "We've had to work a lot harder and
fight for each other because we've had a team that was so close to us."
St. Thomas Aquinas swept the team titles for the third year
in a row when the boys posted a surprisingly easy win over Mill Valley and a
surprising Andover squad. Aquinas put up a dominating 38 point score while Mill
Valley was second with 103 and Andover had 114.
The Aquinas boys also posted a 1-2 finish as Will Cole won
the individual title 15:49, and Alex Gill was second in 15:52. Cole later
received the Bob Timmons Award for posting the day's top time at Rim Rock.
"I'm tired right now, but really happy," Cole said
afterwards. "Me and Alex we go back and forth every single meet. It's great in
training and it's great when we come out and race and do really well."
Cole announced just four days earlier that he would be
attending the University of Notre Dame next year to continue his career. The
Saints, though, will first run at the Nike Cross Regionals in Sioux Falls, SD
in mid-November. And then there's little thing of track season still to come.
Salina South senior Josh Reed placed third at this year's
meet, finishing in a time of 16:06 to hold off Andover's Alex Moen (16:09) and
Great Bend's Kerby Depenbusch (16:10), who is the only one among the top five
who is not a senior this year.