WEEK 2 WRAPUP: Great Weather Means Great Racing in Kansas

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Mother Nature continued to play nice as many of Kansas' best cross country runners came out to strut their stuff in Week 2 of the 2017 season.

She was especially pleasant at the Olathe North Twilight Classic, a new meet held under the Saturday Night Lights. Brian Beach of Olathe North, seventh at the 6A state meet last year, put up the top time in Kansas this year by winning the race in 15:42.7 - a career best time for the junior.

He led a wave of 20 runners who ran faster than 17:00 in the boys' race. Shawnee Mission North edged Olathe North by four points for the boys' team title.

The fastest girls' time in Kansas also went down at the Olathe North meet. Sophie Scott of Blue Valley North, a senior who was the state champion at 800 meters on the track last spring, won the race in 18:24.20, leading a group of four runners under 19:00.

Scott's teammate, Lily Strauss, was second in 18:42, followed by Claire Fuhlhage of Olathe North (18:48) and Sophie Call of Blue Valley West (18:50. There were 17 girls who ran faster than 20:00 at the meet. Blue Valley North, a preseason contender for the 6A state title, won the meet by a decisive 21 points over Shawnee Mission North.

In terms of numbers, the largest meet of the weekend was in Emporia where more than 1,000 runners came across the finish line. Nathan Jones of Maize beat 'em all there, as he won the varsity boys' race in 16:21 after a tough battle with Manhattan's Cooper Schroeder, who crossed in 16:24.

It was Jones' second win in as many weeks, having won the Bishop Carroll Invitational in the season's opening weekend.

Clara Mayfield of Manhattan also won for the second straight week, again beating former teammate Michelle Sanchez, who now runs for Junction City. Mayfield won the girls varsity race at Emporia in 19:14, while Sanchez was second in 19:26.

Mill Valley's boys and girls won the team titles at Emporia. The boys' squad put up a 46-second pack time to beat runner-up Manhattan, while the girls' team had four in the top 8 and edged defending 4A state champion Maize South.

Wamego Invitational

The Wamego Invitational hosted 60 schools, many that wanted to get a preview of the state meet course for classes 1A, 2A and 4A. Jack Thomas of Scott Community keeps chugging out great times and establishing himself as a leading contender for the 4A state title this year. He won the 4A division on Saturday with a career-best time of 16:05.3 - winning by more than 50 seconds over runner-up Aaron Modrow of Chapman.

Wamego also signaled the introduction of a pair that might be the next two outstanding freshmen in Kansas. Taylor Briggs of Chapman won the girls 4A race in 19:36.5, and Ambrynn Stewart of Baldwin placed second in 20:19.9. Those are good times on a Wamego course that can be tricky, with its series of switchbacks and sneaky hills.

Circle's boys won the 4A team title at Wamego, beating defending class 3A champion Hugoton, while Baldwin - class 4A champs two years ago - seem to be on the upswing again, winning the 4A girls division over a good field.

The 1A/2A/3A races at Wamego had some familiar faces at the front of the pack. Halle Johnson of Bennington - who won the 800, 1600 and 3200 on the track last spring - seems intent on adding a cross country title to her resume. She won at Wamego in 20:30.6, just ahead of runner-up Helen Giefer of Trego Community (20:46).

The boys' winner was another emerging state contender; Brodric Shirley of Frankfort won for the second week in a row, posting a time of 16:56.5 for a 14 second victory over runner-up Henry Nelson of Bishop Seabury.

Norton Community won the boys' and girls' team titles in the 1A/2A/3A division.

Hesston Invitational

The Swather Special, hosted by Hesston, was the second-largest meet held in Kansas this weekend. The meet is unique in that while runners compete in one race, results are separated by year in school for both the 1A/2A/3A and 4A/5A/6A divisions.

Bishop Carroll junior Matt Harding is quickly becoming one of the state's elite runners. He had the top time amongst all runners at the meet, winning the boys 4A/5A/6A junior division in 16:38.8.

Lakelin Conrad of Wichita Collegiate, the 2014 class 3A state champion and 2016 class 4A state champion, won the 4A/5A/6A senior race in 16:47.3, in a tight race with Garrett Mick of Newton (16:52.6).

Another Bishop Carroll runner - junior Claire Winter - had the best time by a female runner, winning the 4A/5A/6A junior division in 20:11.4. Erin Topham, a junior at Berean Academy, had the next best time, winning the 1A/2A/3A junior division in 20:21.6.

Katie Horyna of Liberal won the 4A/5A/6A girls sophomore division in 20:37.9, and Hannah Burks of Beloit won the 1A/2A/3A sophomore girls division in 20:45.2 for the third and fourth best times of the day.

Other 1A/2A/3A winners at Hesston included Kendall Coombs of Douglass (freshman girls, 21:36.3); Maggie Allen of Ellsworth (senior girls, 22:09.5); Trey Topham of Berean Academy (freshman boys, 18:24.4); Nicholas Martisko of Inman (sophomore boys, 17:49.5); Ethan Thompson of Mead (junior boys, 17:08.8); and Ashten Dodson of Douglass (senior boys, 17:29.7).

Other 4A/5A/6A winners at Hesston included Kennedy Nicholson of Goddard-Eisenhower (freshman girls, 21:55.6); Paloma Sandoval of Great Bend (senior girls, 21:42.0); Ryan Heline of Smoky Valley (freshman boys, 18:16.0); and Connor Griffith of Great Bend (sophomore boys (17:25.1).

The new guard in Class 4A girls?

Take heed class 4A: Sophomore Renee Trout of Independence may be the heir apparent to former Girard standout Cailie Logue's state crown. Trout went to Logue's home course and ran the division's best time of the season, clocking 18:51 for the victory at the Girard Invitational. It's a career best by nearly 25 seconds for Trout, who was third at the class 4A state championships last year. Matthew Oglesby of Galena won the boys' race in 16:34.

Senior David Lutgen led a 1 through 4 finish by St. John-Beloit at the Stockton Invitational. Lutgen, runner-up in class 1A cross country a year ago, won the race in 16:52. Autumn Princ of Sylvan Lucas, the class 1A state champion as a freshman last year, won Saturday in a time of 20:57.

Class 5A heavyweight St. Thomas Aquinas traveled clear across Missouri for the Forest Park Cross Country Festival in St. Louis. The meet, hosted by St. Louis University High School, draws about 2,500 runners in 12 high school divisions.

St. Thomas Aquinas' boys finished third in the team race, led by junior Ethan Marshall's sixth place finish in 16:20.77, and Jacob Cofer in ninth at 16:25.41. Junior Olivia Sovereign placed sixth in 19:35.5 to lead the Saints' girls team to a 14th place finish.

Ingrid Worth of Shawnee Mission East made her season debut at the Joe Schrag Invitational, hosted by Topeka West, and it was a good one. The senior, who was third in the 3200 meters at the track and field championships in May, won the girls' race in 20:11. Daniel Bohnemann of Leavenworth won the boys' race in 16:18.7, less than a second off his career-best cross country time.

Class 2A state contender Yates Center won the Lyndon Invitational, held at Melvern Lake last Thursday. The Wildcats nipped class 3A state contender Council Grove on a hot day.

Hadley Splechter of Yates Center won the race in 18:04, just ahead of West Franklin's Dallin Bailey (18:22) and Yates Center's Colin Bedell (18:39).  Molly Rossman of West Franklin won the girls' race in 23:08. Lyndon's girls edged Osage City for the girls team title.