CLASS 2A STATE: Cuevas Nips Splechter for Boys 2A Win; Bennington Wins Girls Title

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Never let anyone tell you that cross country is not a sport of inches.


Yeah, just a few inches -- less than stride, really -- certainly meant the difference for Frank Cuevas of Kiowa County and Hadley Splechter of Yates Center.


Cuevas held off Splechter to win the Kansas Class 2A boys cross country title in 16:41.20 while Splechter was an oh-so-agonizingly-close second place in 16:41.37 in the closest race on state championship weekend in Kansas.


Cuevas led wire-to-wire, while Splechter and teammate Colin Bedell -- who finished fourth in 17:30.62 -- led the chase pack. Splechter eventually took on the pursuit by himself, but Cuevas never seemed stressed as he held off the gutsy Splechter's charge.


The exciting finish to the individual race was a precursor to an equally close race for the team title.


St. John scored a one-point win for the team title over Stanton County, 71-72. As close as that seems, it gets even better: within a nine-second stretch from 18:29 to 18:38 St. John runners won three finish line battles that ultimately proved to be the difference in the team win.


Freshman A.J. Miller was St. John's top finisher, winning a finish line battle against Inman's Nicholas Martisko for 17th place. Then, senior Tristan Long nipped Trego's Bernard Giefer by .60 seconds for 19th place. And sophomore Wrangler Walker got past Jackson Height's Dalton Chartier by .90 seconds for 21st place.


Yates Center's boys finished third, riding Splechter, Bedell and Jordan Smith (7th in 17:52) to a podium finish. All three Yates Center standouts will be back next year.


In the girls' race, Stanton County's Rebecah Avelar won the individual title in 20:24, beating defending state champion Kya Johnson, whose time was 20:40. Wabaunsee's Madeline Hess placed third in 20:52.


While Kya Johnson was denied a repeat for the individual title, her Bennington team scored an exciting team victory. They scored 82 points to hold off Kiowa County (89) and Wabaunsee (92).


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