Normally, the workers in the finish area are the busiest
volunteers at high school cross country meets.
But Saturday at Rim Rock Farm, the staff in the medical tent
was scrambling just as much as or more than anyone else, tending to dozens of
runners after a hot, steamy morning of racing at the Rim Rock Farm Classic.
The heat got so bad that the last three races of the day had
to be called off. Temperatures hovered in the low to mid-80s for most of the
races and topped 90 at about the time the Boys Blue Varsity race took off at
No one covered the course faster than Victor Mugeche of Blue
Springs, but even he paid the price. The senior, who committed earlier this
week to run for the University of Missouri, fended off a late surge by Denver
East's Harrison Scudamore to win the Boys Gold Varsity race in 15:27.7
He then spent the next 30 minutes being tended to in the
"I haven't gotten it checked out…(but) I think I have a very
low level of asthma," Mugeche said once he began feeling better. "It's only
happened to me a few times, but after finishing a race, my heart rate stays
high for a long time. It's only happened a few times. But usually after I calm
down, I throw up and after I threw up, I feel amazing now."
Scudamore, who trailed by about 12 seconds with a half-mile
to go, closed the gap on Mugeche down the final stretch, but settled for second
place in 15:32.1. Ryan Eastman of Creighton Prep in Omaha also made up ground
late, and finished third in 15:34.8.
The top Kansas finisher in the Boys Gold division was Blue
Valley Southwest's Dylan Miller, who placed seventh in a season- and
career-best of 15:58.0. Other top 20 finishers from Kansas included Maize's
Nathan Jones (ninth, 16:04.9), St. Thomas Aquinas' Ethan Marshall (11th,
16:10.8), Manhattan's Cooper Schroeder (13th, 16:13.6), and Gardener-Edgerton's
Trent Cochran (20th, 16:27.2).
Mugeche's win keyed Blue Springs' four-point win over Show
Me State rival Rockhurst for the team title. St. Thomas Aquinas was the top
Kansas school in the Boys Gold division, placing sixth.
Mugeche said he "feels pretty good" about winning one of the
region's premier races. "The race went out pretty fast, and I was pretty happy
how the whole race went. I wasn't feeling very good after finishing, but I was
very proud that our team came out with the win. Very exciting."
Another Missouri standout, Victoria Findley of Blue Springs
South, won the Girls Gold varsity race, but unlike Mugeche, she was barely
challenged. She sped out to a comfortable 10 second lead after the first mile
and won in 18:12.9.
Makenzie Stucker of Raymore-Peculiar fought off the rest of
the chase pack to finish second in 18:48.3, followed closely by Bailey Nock of
Iowa City West in 18:49.3. Sophie Call of Blue Valley West (18:59.9), Clara Mayfield of Manhattan (19:07.8) and St. Thomas Aquinas' Olivia Sovereign (19:10.3)
were the top Kansas finishers, placing sixth through eighth, respectively.
"I felt really good," Findley said. "I knew it was going to
be hot and I knew it was going to be really good competition but I just had to
stick to running the race that I'm good at, and that's just taking it out
(fast). I was hoping they'd come with me for a little longer…it was a good
confidence booster. We had a week off and so we were all kind of wondering,
'are we still good? How are we going to match up?' And so it was cool to come
out here and see that my fitness was still high."
St. James Academy won the Girls Gold team title for the
second year in a row, putting five runners in the top 50 for a five-point win
over Millard West from Omaha. Sara Murrow placed 12th overall to lead the
squad, which posted a 1:14 pack time.
"We've been really working hard this season and really
support each other, and support was one of the main things we used in the
race," Murrow said.
Mill Valley placed fourth in the Girls Gold division, while
Blue Valley North was sixth, Blue Valley West was eighth, and St. Thomas
Aquinas was 10th.
In the other varsity races at the Rim Rock Classic:
Johnson, Trout do
battle in the Girls Blue
Halle Johnson of Bennington won the Girls Varsity Blue
Division with a tenacious finish over the last mile. She trailed Independence
standout Renee Trout just past the two mile mark, but then methodically began
pushing the pace.
By the time Johnson crossed King's Bridge and with just over
a half-mile to go, she had taken command of the lead. She kept the pedal down
over the famed Rim Rock skyline and won easily in 19:34.4, a season PR. Trout,
who has run 18:51 for the best time in class 4A this season, was second in
"I have been working on a new strategy where I stay with
(other runners) and then trying to work on my speed and kick it that last half
mile," Johnson said.
"It was hot, but you've got to be ready for all kinds of
conditions in cross country. It's a tough sport."
Hiawatha's Elizabeth Kettler, who placed second in the class
3A state cross country championships on this course a year ago, was third on
Saturday. Kettler pulled away from the chase group by two miles and finished in
Depenbusch's Debut a
In the Boys Varsity Crimson race, Great Bend's Kerby Depenbusch had a pretty good running partner for his season debut.
Depenbusch and teammate Connor Griffith stalked Lakewood, Colorado's
Chase Dornbusch for two miles, then put on the gas as they posted a 1-2 finish.
Depenbusch won in 16:24 while Griffith followed in 16:29. Dornbusch placed
third in 16:34.
Depenbusch was racing for the first time this season after
suffering a stress fracture in a fibula this summer, which he says was related
to a summer job.
"Luckily they caught it soon enough," said Depenbusch, a
senior who is a six-time state medalist in cross country and track and field.
"I wore a boot for three weeks and was also doing underwater treadmill workouts
and finally started getting slowly back into running."
About Saturday's race, he said: "I was pretty nervous, but
my legs actually felt pretty good. In the middle of the race, when you need to
be tough, when you feel like you can't do this, you just got to tell that part
of yourself to shut up."
Griffith said the pair started the race conservatively,
running about 25th place for the first mile before making their charge for the
front. At the bottom of the course, near the two mile mark, they had caught
Dornbusch and made their final push.
"Kerby just started to go and I decided to follow him,"
"We have a magnet," Depenbusch joked.
The magnet apparently helped the rest of their team, too, as
Great Bend rolled to the team title in the Boys Crimson division. The Panthers
scored 187 points for a 22 point win over Nixa (Mo.). Pre-meet favorite Wichita
North was fifth, Andover Central eighth, and Blue Valley Northwest 10th.
Conrad's Wicked Kick
Wins the Boys Blue Division
Wichita Collegiate's Lakelin Conrad put on a relentless
drive over the last three-quarters mile of the race to grab victory in the Boys
Varsity Blue race. Conrad, who also won this race last year, won in 16:19.6 to
edge Yates Center's Hadley Splechter, who finished in 16:21.9.
Those two were in an intense battle with Beloit-St. John's
David Lutgen through two and one-half miles before Conrad and Splechter began
pulling away up the King's Bridge hill. By the time they hit the Rim Rock
skyline, the two were shoulder-to-shoulder.
But Conrad had a little more. He began his kick about 500
meters out and charged relentlessly around the final curve and into the finish.
"It felt really good," said Conrad, the class 3A state
champion in 2014 and class 4A in 2016. "Last week, I had some sickness and did
not feel my best, so to fight that and come back strong the next week is really
good and I'm really happy that all my hard work is paying off."
Lutgen finished in 16:27 for third, just one second off his
career best. He has the top time in class 1A this season, while Splechter is
No. 1 in class 2A. Conrad moved to No. 3 in class 4A with his time on Saturday.
Bentonville West (Ark.) was the team champion in the Boys
Blue division, winning by 110 points over runner-up Smithville (Mo.). Wamego
was the top Kansas team, placing fourth.
Heat No Problem for
Colorado Runner in Girls Crimson
Carley Bennett of Lakewood (Colo.) had no problem leaving
the cooler climate of her home state for the heat and humidity of Kansas. She
pulled away just past a mile into the Girls Varsity Crimson race and never looked
back, finishing in 19:27 for a 19 second win over Hailey Day of Heritage
"I just had the mindset that everybody's racing in it,"
Bennett said. "I knew I could handle it. It's definitely not my favorite
weather, I like dry heat more. But, you know, I love new experiences. It's
Bennett started conservatively, but she said when the pace
slowed, she felt like it was time for her to make a move.
"I wanted to stick around the leader and move at 4000
meters, but I felt that her pace was too slow after about 2000 (meters), so I
just took it at 2," she said.
Michelle Sanchez of Junction City placed third in 19:53.2,
just edging Truman's Stacy Briggs (19:53.8) at the finish line.
Freshman Riley Beach of Blue Valley Northwest placed fifth
in 20:02.8, leading her team to fifth place -- the top Kansas team in the Girls
Crimson race. Lansing placed ninth and was the only other Kansas team to finish
in the top 10.
Marquette (Mo.) won the Girls Varsity Crimson team title in
a close battle with Rogers (Ark.) and Bishop Kelley (Okla.).