Born and Venters Top Nike Heartland

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From left to right, Kansas runners Cailie Logue, Emily Venters and Molly Born led the field with 1000 meters to go at the Nike Heartland Regional Cross Country Championships Saturday in Sioux Falls, SD.


SIOUX FALLS, SD -- Molly Born and Emily Venters led a Kansas girls sweep of the Nike Heartland Regional cross country championships Sunday, posting huge PRs in a stunning finish that included a heart-wrenching fall by pre-race favorite Cailie Logue of Girard.


The three Kansas stars were running side-by-side with 1000 meters to go, with Farmington, Minn. eighth-grader Anna Fenske right behind them.

 

Just before three miles, Born and Venters broke away with Fenske in pursuit. Logue began to labor and collapsed with about 100 meters to go. It took Logue more than a minute to regain her feet and shuffle in to a 59th place finish.

 

The Girard senior, who two weeks ago became just the fifth Kansas runner ever to win four state cross country titles, placed second at the Heartland regional last year en route to a third place finish at the Nike nationals.

 

The finish stretch brought a whole different emotion for Born and Venters, however, who punched their tickets to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. on Dec. 3.

 

The duo got out to a fast start, leading the pack of 270 runners with an opening mile of 5:19. The lead pack started to thin by two miles, with Born, Venters, Logue and Fenske out front in 10:52.

 

Born and Venters were a picture of power and grace as they motored down the final stretch. Born won in 16:49, knocking 21 seconds off her season-best, while Venters was second in 16:56 - 57 seconds better than she had ever run a 5K.

 

Afterwards, the two Sunflower League rivals hugged past the finish line. Both have won two Class 6A state championships, and have faced off numerous times in cross country and on the track. The next time they'll see each other is at the national championships in Portland.

 

Venter's teammate at Lawrence Free State, Kiran Cordes, nearly joined them. The senior ran a PR of 56 seconds to finish eighth in the Heartland Regional with a time of 17:43. Cordes, who was seventh at the Kansas 6A state championships two weeks ago, was just three places and 20 seconds from a trip to nationals.

 

Kansas girls were definitely a force in the Heartland regional this year, with eight placing in the top 40 and ten posting times under 19:00.

 

Kansas class 5A state champion Olivia Sovereign of St. Thomas Aquinas, a sophomore, placed 16th in 18:00 and Shawnee Mission North's Amber Reed was 25th in 18:11.

 

Other Kansas girls who ran under 19:00 Sunday include Clearwater's Aimee Davis (29th in 18:15), Blue Valley North's Lily Strauss (38th 18:27), Manhattan's Cara Melgares (40th, 18:28), Logue (59th, 18:45), and Shawnee Mission North's Katie Kasunic (61st, 18:45).

 

The Manhattan Cross Country Club was the top finishing Kansas team in the girls championship division, placing 11th. Other Kansas schools fielding full teams were Shawnee Mission Northwest (13th), Shawnee Mission North (14th), Lansing (24th) and Blue Valley Southwest (27th).

 

St. Thomas Aquinas' boys placed seventh in a tight team race. Senior Will Cole, the class 5A state champion, placed 17th at the Heartland regional in 15:29 to lead the team. The Saints, though, were 35 points short of second place and the final qualifying spot to Nike nationals.

 

Mill Valley, runner-up to St. Thomas Aquinas in class 5A this season, was 12th at the Heartland regional. Olathe East, the class 6A state champions competing under the team name Rabid Jackalopes, placed 14th, followed by Olathe North (17th), Blue Valley Southwest (28th) and Manhattan (33rd).

 

Cole was the top finishing individual from Kansas, but there were several strong finishes by Kansas athletes.

 

Dylan Brenneman of Spring Hill placed 30th and Brian Beach of Olathe North was 32nd, both in times of 15:47. Other top Kansas runners included Kerby Depenbusch of Great Bend (41st, 15:53), Calvin Shannon of Smoky Valley (43rd, 15:54), Pierce Flanders of Washburn Rural (54th, 15:59) and Dylan Miller of Blue Valley Southwest (59th, 16:00).

 

Elizabeth Kettler of Hiawatha placed fifth in the girls Rising Star race, for freshman and sophomore runners. Kettler's time was 19:29. Ella Rosenkranz of Manhattan was 20th in 20:05.

 

In the Boys Open race, Shawnee Mission North placed eighth with 408 points, and St. Thomas Aquinas was16th with 641. Adam Owens of Blue Valley was the top Kansas finisher, placing 25th in a time of 16:23.

 

Olathe North placed third in the Girls Open division, led by junior Claire Fuhlhage's 12th place finish in 19:06. Freshman Zoey Schillinger also placed 13th in 19:09 for Olathe North.


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