Many of the Best in the Midwest are Coming to Rim Rock

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The bulk of Kansas' cross country teams are heading to Lawrence this week to participate in one of the country's premier meets when the annual Rim Rock Farm Classic takes place Saturday.

 

The meet features many of the elite teams within a seven-state region. They'll be taking on the historic - and very tough - Rim Rock Farm course that is as much known for the slew of famous runners it has hosted as it is for its unforgiving hills.

 

Rim Rock Farm was one of the first-ever courses in the United States that was built exclusively for cross country. It is easily one of the most scenic courses in the United States, with two iconic bridge crossings and tree-lined pathways.

 

But even all that pales in comparison to the quality of the runners that will come to Rim Rock on Saturday.

 

The meet features gold, crimson and blue divisions for varsity and junior varsity runners. There is one boys and one girls 'C' race at the end of the day.

 

Between the three divisions, there are 151 boys teams and 137 girls teams scheduled to compete. For Kansas' 3A, 5A and 6A schools, it's a preview of the same course they'll run for the Kansas state championships in late October.

 

MileSplit Kansas has been running virtual meets, based on each runner's season-best time to date; check out our web site to see how your team stacks up.

 

Even so, you can predict the outcome all you want, but it's all about lacing up the shoes on Saturday and seeing how it shakes out. I'm looking forward to seeing some runners that I get to write about, but don't often get to see in person.

 

Let's break it down...

 

Boys Gold Division

 

This will be ultra exciting with some of the best runners in the region, starting with Blue Springs High School's Victor Mugeche. The Missouri runner has the top time coming in (15:11), and currently sits at No. 25 in MileSplit's listing of the top times in the United States this season.

 

That said, I don't expect Mugeche to have a cake walk on Saturday. He'll be challenged by Webb City (Mo.) senior Ryan Riddle, who won the Missouri Southern Stampede last Saturday, and possibly by Harrison Scudamore of Denver East High School, who has run 15:28 at altitude this season.

 

Tim Sindt of Ankeny (Ia.) High School has run 15:31, and Manhattan's Cooper Schroeder has the top time by a Kansas runner this year, clocking 15:38 at Joplin last weekend.

 

St. Thomas Aquinas' boys are the pre-meet favorite for the team title. The Saints will likely bring a tight pack, led by junior Ethan Marshall. Aquinas has made the tough Rim Rock course a second home, and I fully expect they'll come ready to run this weekend.

 

Girls Gold Division

 

Out-of-state runners also are among the pre-meet favorites in the Girls Gold Division, with Sioux City North (Ia.) High School's Dakota South coming in with the top time at 18:07.50. That time puts her in the top 100 among U.S. girls this season.

 

She'll have her hands full, however, with Blue Springs South's (Mo.) Victoria Findley, who won the Greg Wilson Classic earlier this season, and Iowa City West's Bailey Nock, who come in with season-best times of 18:16 and 18:18. Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott is the fastest girl in Kansas right now, clocking 18:24 to win the Olathe North Twilight Classic two weeks ago.

 

Scott's team is the pre-meet favorite, and don't be surprised if it's not a close race. Blue Valley North not only has front runners, but has developed depth that will play well in such a large meet. Look for Mill Valley to be the other Kansas school with an outside shot at the title; they've already beaten class 5A defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas this season, and have been putting together some great pack times.

 

Boys Crimson Division

 

Out-of-state runners also seem to have the inside track in this division, as the top six times coming in are by runners from surrounding states. Missouri runner Ean Buffington of Jackson High School enters with a season-best of 15:53.

 

The top Kansas runner entering Saturday is DeSoto's Sam Hubert, who has a best of 16:35, while Maliki Pope of Seaman has run 16:36 on the year.

 

Wichita North seems to have the best chance at a team title in this division among Kansas schools. The squad could ride what appears to be a tight pack to a top-five finish. Shawnee Mission West is the other Kansas school with strong top five potential.

 

Girls Crimson Division

 

Michelle Sanchez of Junction City should challenge for the individual title in the Girls Crimson race. She comes in with a season best of 19:26, though the division's best time is by Mariah Lister of Grain Valley (Mo.), who has run 19:17. Sanchez has run well at Rim Rock in the past; she placed eighth at the class 6A state championships running for Manhattan last year.

 

Blue Valley Northwest freshman Riley Beach and Pittsburg senior Mckenzie Wilks enter with top 10 times and could find themselves on the medal stand.

 

Kansas teams, though, will likely have a tough time bringing home some hardware in this division. The top 11 teams in MileSplit's virtual meet all come from out-of-state. Andover Central, the state runner-up in class 4A last year, may be Kansas' best hope for a top 10 finish.

 

Boys Blue Division

 

Wichita Collegiate's Lakelin Conrad is the defending champion in this race, winning in 16:20 last year en route to winning the class 4A individual state title last year. He's among the contenders again this year, as he enters with the second-best time of the season (16:37).

 

The best time entering the meet, however, belongs to Yates Center's Hadley Splechter, who has won his first three races of the season, including the gold division at the Missouri Southern Stampede last weekend. Splechter, a junior who won the 1600 and 3200 meter state titles on the track last spring, has a season-best of 16:01.

 

Bean Minor of Salida, Colo., is one to watch for. He's run 16:39 at altitude this season and leads a Spartan team that has done well on the Colorado scene. In fact, Salida enters as the team favorite, though Joplin (Mo.) should make it a very interesting team race.

 

Girls Blue Division

 

Olathe West, in its first year of existence, could make its mark in the Girls Blue Division on Saturday. Sophomore Mikala Bourquin enters with the division's best time of 19:42, while teammate Jenna Mullen has the second-best mark of 19:47. Those two likely won't be enough to carry Olathe West to a team title, but they'll certainly make their presence known at Rim Rock.

 

Ruby Brown of Salida (Colo.), Laurel Singh of Joplin (Mo.) and Halle Johnson of Bennington should push the two Olathe West stars. Johnson was the 800, 1600 and 3200 Kansas state champion on the track last spring, and won her first two races of the season this year.

 

Like the Boys Blue Division, the team chase for the girls likely comes down to Salida and Joplin.

 

******

 

Look for coverage from Rim Rock Farm to be posted on this site by Saturday afternoon, including video interviews with top finishers. Results will be posted to MileSplit Kansas as they are available.


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